A look at the tangled wires of Nigeria’s electricity crisis
Although it has the largest reserve of gas in Africa, Nigeria cannot provide its population with electricity. Electricians, both legal and illegal, risk their lives on the power lines to earn enough to survive and provide for their families. When the lights go out, or customers can no longer pay their bills, the people have to take matters into their own hands.
In Port Harcourt, a major refining hub in the Niger Delta, blackouts are the norm. They cover the bustling city just like the soot from the regular gas flares. Militant groups begin to convey their anger by destroying gas pipes and attacking failing power facilities. “They don’t give what belongs to us”, says the leader of one group. Without electricity, people turn to burning their own kerosene and diesel. They get burned or poisoned by carbon monoxide, placing further strain on hospitals. We see one which can’t even power the mortuary fridges.
But amid the tangled wires of Nigeria’s chronic power problem, hope flickers. Clean energy activists are educating people, promoting the use of solar and wind energies. “We’re flaring enough gas to provide all Nigeria with constant electricity, but we’re burning that all up”, explains Amara Nwankpa, who co-founded #LightUpNigeria, a highly successful social media campaign. “It is an absurd waste of energy…We need to make a cultural shift.”
“Even in the midst of this, we just have to keep hope alive”, believes Deborah, who knows her daughters worry about her safety. In this documentary, the blue-collar workers who keep their country running day and night share their compelling and dramatic stories. The gritty, beautiful, and urgent filmmaking reveals that the struggle for power in Nigeria is far from over.
Reviews and More
“...a rare, yet refreshing, look at a people often misrepresented in America’s mainstream media” – Cleveland International Film Festival
"★★★★ Nakhai and editor Rich Williamson let it all flow elegantly, tying data to human stories rather than cold statistics" – Now Magazine
“"A compelling and complex look at a society in a vicious cycle” – Cinema Axis
For a Q&A with director Shasha Nakhai, see here.
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