Why a Low-Energy Future Will Be Dangerous for Nigeria and the United States
October 4, 2018
From Foreign Affairs by Judd Devermont and Todd Moss
Nigeria is home to one in every five Africans and it has the continent’s largest economy. More than half of Nigerians are under 20 years old. Whether all these bright young people will drive growth or generate instability depends largely on whether Nigeria’s economy can produce jobs for them. And Nigeria won’t be able to create jobs at the required pace until it solves its energy crisis.
By 2045, Nigeria will be more populous than the United States, but the entire country currently produces less than one percent as much electricity. A low-energy future—in which a youth bulge meets an underpowered economy that cannot create jobs—would be a security nightmare for both Nigeria and the United States. Many have proposed that Nigeria address this problem by circumventing the complex structural problems with the country’s electricity chain and going small. Some representatives from the United Nations, the international financial community, and philanthropy have advocated for countries like Nigeria to solve their energy shortfalls by investing in small-scale, renewable home systems. Although these systems are attractive, they won’t bring Nigeria’s economy—or its youth—into the future.
Nigeria needs a high-energy grid system to power its factories and cities and to sustain a growing economy. The United States should partner with Nigeria to build such a system, which would stabilize one of Washington’s most important allies by helping it meet the economic needs and aspirations of its ballooning population.
Read the full article in Foreign Affairs here.