Nigerian Finance Minister Blames West's Green Energy Drive for Electricity Shortage

Nigeria students in darkness
Students work with a kerosene lamp due to epileptic public power supply in Lagos, Nigeria, September 24. Millions of people in Nigeria do not have access to reliable electricity. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

Nigeria's finance minister has blamed a Western focus on green energy for prohibiting the country from addressing its energy deficit.

Kemi Adeosun, speaking at an International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Washington Wednesday, said that Nigeria was being blocked from exploiting its abundant coal resources.

"We want to build a coal power plant because we are a country blessed with coal," said Adeosun, according to Nigeria's Premium Times. "However, we are being blocked from doing so, because it is not green. This is not fair because they have an entire Western industrialization that was built on coal-fired energy."

Nigeria has a huge electricity supply problem, with an estimated 93 million people—more than half the population—without access to reliable electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. The West African country is rich in natural resources, including oil and coal, but its oil production has been hampered by a resurgence in militant attacks in the Niger Delta.

The country's total greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 were around 475 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, while the U.K.—which has a population almost a third of the size of Nigeria—produced 551 million metric tons, according to the World Resources Institute.

"They suggest that we use solar and wind, which is the more expensive. So yes, Africa must invest in its infrastructure, but we must also make sure that the playing field is level," said Adeosun.

The Nigerian government agreed in 2011 to attempt to boost its renewable electricity supply from 13 percent to 25 percent of total electricity output by 2025, which would mean that renewable energy accounted for 10 percent of the country's overall energy consumption.