A general view of a shop with dozens of phones of clients without electricity being charged with multiple chargers at night at Ojodu district of Lagos on March 22, 2022.

A general view of a shop with dozens of phones of clients without electricity being charged with multiple chargers at night at Ojodu district of Lagos on March 22, 2022.

Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images.

Nigeria Suffers Widespread Blackouts Following Total Power System Collapse

Total system collapse sparks nationwide blackouts, highlighting energy struggles in Africa's largest economy amidst frequent grid failures and soaring fuel costs.

Nigeria, Africa's largest economy, grappled with a nationwide power crisis on Thursday. The incident resulted in extensive blackouts across the nation. In the early hours, power generation plummeted to zero, later recovering to a mere 273 megawatts (MW) by 10:30 GMT, a stark contrast to the daily average of 4,100 MW, according to data from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

TCN remained unresponsive to immediate requests for comment regarding the incident.

This widespread power outage is attributed to a fire within the country's power infrastructure, as reported by authorities and Nigeria's electricity distribution companies. The electrical grid, which has experienced multiple failures in recent years, left all 36 states of Nigeria and the capital city of Abuja without electricity before gradual restoration efforts commenced.

Adebayo Adebulu, Nigeria's Minister of Power, attributed the grid failure to a fire incident in one of the nation's power plants, resulting in "sharp drops in frequency." Adebulu shared this information on X, previously known as Twitter, assuring that the fire had been fully contained. He stated, "Over half of the connections are now up, and the rest will be fully restored in no time."

The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), responsible for supplying electricity to southeastern Nigeria, declared a "total system collapse" in a statement, rendering them unable to provide service to their customers. Company spokesperson Emeka Ezeh explained the situation. "Due to this development, … we are unable to provide service to our customers," company spokesperson Emeka Ezeh said.

These power failures are a recurring issue in Nigeria, exacerbated by its deteriorating energy infrastructure, leading to frequent disruptions in power supply.

Despite being oil-rich, Nigeria struggles with an energy deficit, producing an average of 4,000 megawatts of electricity daily, which is insufficient for its population of over 210 million people. This falls far short of the 30,000 megawatts per day, as authorities have previously indicated.

The inadequate power supply forces millions of residents to rely on gasoline-powered generators for their electricity needs. However, this practice has become more challenging due to the significant increase in gasoline prices this year following the government's discontinuation of decades-long subsidies. Consequently, many households and businesses are grappling with the search for alternative power sources.

"Power supply shall be restored as soon as the national grid is powered back," the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, which supplies power to parts of northern Nigeria, said in a statement.

In 2022, Nigeria's grid collapsed at least four times, which authorities blamed on technical problems.