Soaring Imports, Declining Exports: Can Export of Electricity bridge the Balance of Trade (BOT) gap?

Nigeria’s Balance of Trade continued its decline from a deficit of N2.73 billion in the last quarter of 2020 (Q4 2020) to another deficit of N3.94 billion in Q1 2021.

This is due to the continued decline in exports against increasing imports. Shortfalls in output during the COVID-19 restrictions could also have contributed to the reduction in the production of goods for exports.

Can Electricity Exports Bridge Nigeria’s Balance of Trade Deficits?

Nigeria plans to invest in the export of unutilised electric power to four West African countries, namely, Niger, Benin Republic, Togo and Burkina Faso, says the acting managing director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and chairman, the executive board of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), Sule Abdulaziz.

“On the benefits, the WAPP chairman said, “Nigeria has the greatest advantage among these countries because the electricity is going to be exported from the Nigerian Gencos. So from that, the revenue is going to be enhanced and a lot of people will be employed in Nigeria”, according to a Daily Trust report.

While the report further noted that 2000 megawatts of electricity generated in Nigeria is unutilised every day. A Dataphyte analysis shows that, of the energy utilised by transfer from the Gencos to the Discos, 26% of it is also unsold to the end users, and therefore, unutilised by the underserved public. 

While  Mr Abdulaziz claims that “the power we will be selling is the power that is not needed in Nigeria”, is rather beside the fact, as only 55.4% of Nigerians have access to electricity as at 2019, contrasted with Ghana’s 83.5% in the same year.

Why did subscription to Phone Networks dip? 

All phone networks in Nigeria experienced drops in their voice and internet subscriptions. There was also no porting activity by customers from one network to another. This may not be unconnected with the ban placed on the purchase of new sim cards while the registration of existing phone lines is ongoing.