Brief Dive: Estimating Nigeria’s Electricity Deficit

I estimate Nigeria’s electricity supply deficit in 2022 to be 97,140 megawatts.

Photo by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu on Unsplash


Basil Abia

Date Published

July 5, 2022


Political Economy


It is difficult to ascertain Nigeria’s electricity supply deficit largely because it is a herculean task estimating Nigeria’s electricity demand. However, one thing that Nigeria enthusiasts, skeptics, and historians alike can find consensus on, is that Nigeria has been in an energy crisis largely driven by a deficit in electricity supply since the 1970s1. According to the World Bank, at least 47% of Nigerians do not have access to electricity supplied from the national grid, and the Nigerians that do have, face recurring electricity cuts and are burdened by poor electricity quality. Nigeria has a significantly lower electricity rate even when compared with its African peers.

Deficit Mathematics 

Currently, Nigeria has an installed electricity generation capacity of about 12,522 megawatts. This doesn’t mean that Nigeria has reached those numbers in terms of generation and eventual distribution in the past two decades. While its transmission capacity has always been widely noted at 19,000 megawatts, the peak amount of electricity that Nigeria can transmit to end-users under ideal conditions is only estimated at 8,100 megawatts according to a recent Stears data energy report. Yet, the highest Nigeria has been able to transmit to end-users is 5,459 megawatts. Furthermore, only an average of 3,100 megawatts of grid electricity currently gets transmitted to the end-user in Nigeria due to worn-out and obsolete electricity transmission infrastructure. For context, the largest nuclear power plant in the United States of America, Palo Verde, generates and effectively distributes 3,942 megawatts of electricity at its peak during an average summer - there are 11,070 utility-scale electric power plants in the United States of America. 

I estimate Nigeria’s electricity supply deficit in 2022 to be 97,140 megawatts.

There is a combined way one can attempt to derive realistic estimates of Nigeria’s electricity supply deficit. 

In the first step, one can compute what Nigerians are currently self-generating to meet their demand using alternative sources to the national grid, like petrol/diesel generators and renewable options. We should consider this to be the crucial/critical (inelastic) demand that captures non-negotiable energy needs. This assumption is plausible because of the relatively higher cost of self-supplied electricity. 

Secondly, we can proceed to interact the current self-supply with estimates of latent demand to get a more complete and realistic estimate of Nigeria's electricity demand. I consider latent demand as the marginal non-critical but essential energy demand. This demand is more elastic and consists of price-sensitive consumers who will consume more electricity if it was available via the grid or alternative sources were more affordable. 

Consider a Primary Healthcare Center (PHC) in Umuleri (Anambra state) that benefits from a Diesel powered generator grant from a charity foundation to help run the PHC. Now, due to rising Diesel costs and the inability of the generating unit to run uninterruptedly for 24 hours/7 days, they use the generator 6 hours on a daily basis. Those critical 6 hours that it runs for equates to the inelastic demand of electricity. Given that the facility would want to have power for 24 hours if it was available via the grid or if diesel was more affordable, a large part of the 18 hours that the generating set doesn’t run is the latent demand. Basically, the authorities at the PHC would have a higher demand for electricity if provided with more electricity from the grid or from alternative sources like Solar PV systems.

Estimating self-generation

Now back to the math - firstly,  Dalberg estimates that Nigeria’s Diesel/PMS fueled electricity generators generate an electricity self-supply of up to 42,000 megawatts for Nigerians. 

Share of self-generation in total demand

Secondly, according to a research report published in 2015 by the German international development organization, GIZ, only 48% of electricity demand in Nigeria is met by electricity self-supply enabled by Diesel/PMS generators. 

This means that as of 2015 estimates, if 48% of electricity demand was at 42,000 megawatts for Nigerians, then a 100% electricity supply demand for Nigerians would be 87,500 megawatts. 

Accounting for demand growth

Now, considering that the demand satisfaction estimate was methodically arrived upon seven years ago in 2015, it is likely that electricity demand is higher today in 2022. According to a 2015 electricity demand forecast conducted by Nigeria’s Central Bank, electricity demand will grow by 52% between 2010 and 20352, translating to an electricity demand growth rate of about 2.08% per year. This implies that Nigeria’s electricity demand from 2015 to 2022 would have grown by 14.56%. 

Realistic estimate of Nigeria’s electricity demand

Now, we can mathematically establish that Nigeria’s demand for electricity is 100,240 megawatts

This was arrived at by calculating what 14.56% (electricity demand growth between 2015-2022) of 2015’s 100% electricity demand estimate (87,500 megawatts) would be - which represents 12,740 megawatts and then adding it to the 2015 full electricity demand estimate (12,740 megawatts + 87,500 megawatts). 

So, what’s Nigeria’s electricity deficit?

Using the average transmitted electricity numbers corroborated by Stears Data this year, which is estimated to be 3,100 megawatts, and then subtracting it from the calculated electricity supply demand in 2022 at 100,240 megawatts, the electricity supply deficit for Nigerians is 97,140 megawatts. 

This means that Nigeria would need to generate and efficiently transmit an addition of 97,140 megawatts of grid electricity to its averagely distributed 3,100 megawatts to electricity end-users in Nigeria in order to be able to meet domestic demand. 


Previous studies deploying a stochastic extrapolations method based on Time Series Analysis of past demand load3 and the use of a Model for Analysis of Energy Demand (MAED) based on scenario assumptions4 have estimated Nigeria’s electricity demand between 17,000 - 18,000 megawatts, and between 51,000 - 77,000 megawatts respectively. While these estimates differ due to differences in the approach of the analyses and scenario assumptions that are not unconnected to extant data infrastructure gaps in Nigeria, they pose a consensus on one thing: that Nigeria has an unsustainably high electricity supply deficit!

Bridging this deficit with reliable, affordable, and preferably clean energy will unlock massive value across the entire economy and set Nigeria on the path of sustainable development.

¹ Obafemi Olatunji et al 2018 IOP Conf. Ser.: Mater. Sci. Eng. 413 012053: 

² ANALYSIS OF ENERGY MARKET CONDITIONS IN NIGERIA © Central Bank of Nigeria, October 2015.

³ O. Ezennaya, O. Isaac, U. Okolie, O. Ezeanyim (2014)

⁴ Energy Commission of Nigeria (2013) through

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