Power Solutions on Nigeria Info FM
The Power Solutions radio show is designed to shed light on solutions to Nigeria's power problem. The show regular anchor, Dr. Wiebe Boer discusses with the Allwell Nwankwo, Operations Officer, IFC - International Finance Corporation.
He takes some time out to explain his passion for solving the problem of power in Nigeria, seeing that he grew up in a village devoid of electricity.
"It looks like something that was inevitable. I grew up in a rural upgrade environment and I can tell you that 16 out of my first 20 years I was in a village where there was no light. But sometimes, I visited cities like Aba.
"I think that for one to fully understand and appreciate the impact of the upgrade when one goes to spend some time in a village. Fortunately, today, my village has got light or electricity from the grid although my parents still complain that for weeks, they may not have light."
He goes on to explain that as a student he was making use of kerosene lanterns for studies and it was something of an upgrade to use candle back then. He recalls when he was about ten and his mother was bitten by a snake while she was going out. "Later on I realized that if she had light, she may not have been bitten by that snake."
It was also around that time he had opportunity to join a team of experts that were looking for off-grid solutions to the problems of Nigeria's energy sector. A cousin of his was fond of making use of materials such as dead batteries, stringing wires and using the kind of bulbs seen on torchlights these days. He joined him in exploring several ways of producing light.
"In those days, we felt excited when we see the very little light we have produced as we looked for solution to the darkness in the village. This for me, was the first level of qualification. I also remember that on a particular night, I encountered two snakes within 30 minutes in the village and I killed both of them. Fortunately, the moon was up so I could see. Otherwise, I may have been bitten by a snake if it was on one of those dark nights."
At the present time, Allwell's work has took him to many places, one of them, a Chinese solar products company. He thought the true solution to Nigeria's electricity problems lies in the use of solar panels.
"The thing was too expensive then. I got their response but couldn't follow up because the amount of money involved was prohibitive. So, when I joined this program at the IFC in 2014, I knew this is exactly what Nigeria needs. The Lightening Africa program had launched in Kenya as far back as 2009. But the program in Nigeria fully launched in 2015."
Check out Dr. Wiebe Boer on Twitter | @wiebeB_Africa
Connect to Power Solutions on 99.3 Nigeria Info FM every Monday by 11:00am - 11:30am.
Written by Jude Chukwuemeka