By the year 2060, Nigeria will be almost completely unrecognizable from its former self. The once-decrepit infrastructure had been transformed into a futuristic dreamworld, powered entirely by solar energy. The air was clean, the streets were quieter, and the people were happier. Kamsi, a 16-year-old high school student like any student in secondary institutions, had to learn about the country’s history in Social Studies class. Kamsi didn’t particularly enjoy social studies classes, but she didn’t hate them either, so she always made sure to attend. One fateful day, Mrs. Adewale connected her laptop to the projector, and the topic, A LIT NIGERIA: NIGERIA’S PAST AND PRESENT ENERGY SOURCES, flashed across the whiteboard.
This piqued Kamsi’s interest immediately because the topic was related to one she had been obsessed with and inspired by since she was a little girl – Nigeria’s first female president. Many years ago, in 2049, Nigeria finally voted a woman for president, Dakore Digifa, who had already been leading Nigeria down a path to a better future. Dakore Digifa was still in her late 20s when she returned from studying in the United States in 2040. She had studied electrical engineering with a focus on renewable energy, and she had a plan to fix Nigeria’s notoriously unreliable electricity grid.
Dakore met with many government officials, investors, and fellow engineers to jumpstart her plan, which led to discussions about what energy source would be best for Nigeria. With the objective of making progress in ensuring sustainability and development, Hydropower was seriously considered due to the several waterbodies in Nigeria. However, Mrs. Adewale explained that there were many reasons why hydropower would have not been efficient. One major reason was the inconsistent rainfall patterns in the country. Nigeria’s dry season can last up to half a year, which leads to a decrease in water flow, and would have greatly reduced the power output of the hydroelectric plants. A plan like that would have left millions of people with no power during dry seasons.
So, Dakore and her team turned to another natural gift Nigeria had been blessed with, the sun. They found that Nigeria had abundant solar resources, with an average of 5.5 kWh per square meter of solar radiation per day, which could be harnessed to generate electricity. After years of hard work, Dakore’s project was approved, and she was given the green light to build a massive solar farm that would power hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses. This solar farm is functioning today. In fact, Kamsi passed it every day on her way to school. She looked at the photograph in her textbook of the farm when it was still brand-new, the solar panels glistening in the sun. So much time had passed, she thought, and so much had changed, all thanks to Dakore Digifa, and of course, the sun.
As Kamsi listened to Mrs. Adewale drone on about Nigeria’s past reliance on fossil fuels, she imagined what life would have been like if she had lived then instead. She had a pretty clear picture because her parents had survived that time and lived to tell the stories. The use of non-renewable resources like oil and natural gas in a developing country like Nigeria left tens of millions of people, especially those in rural areas, with an unstable power supply every day. There used to be a running joke amongst Nigerians, where they would cheer “Up NEPA!” (in reference to NEPA, the company in charge of electricity in the country then) any time there was power. They never knew when next they would have power, and while Kamsi’s parents always told these stories laughingly, Kamsi could not help but feel pity.
Life was vastly different now. She looked out the window, at the Lagos City of today, and marveled at the changes all around her. Solar panels covered every rooftop in sight, and beyond the school gates, there were solar-powered cars and streetcars cruising down the streets. There were bus and streetcar shelters in every single city and state of Nigeria, and thanks to solar power, they all had good illumination for the nighttime, heaters, and air-conditioners for any sort of weather, and interactive street maps.
She remembered stories of her parents’ childhood, where they had to wake up at 5 a.m. every day to get ready and pay for motorbikes and tricycles that would take them halfway across the city to school. Kamsi could not believe that these used to be the major means of transportation in places like Kano and Lagos. They were extremely unsafe, and she knew this because both her parents had scars from bike accidents years ago. Now, she only saw these vehicles in textbooks and old newspapers. A sense of gratitude settled there.
Kamsi diverted her attention back to the lesson. It was less than five minutes till the period would be over, and Mrs. Adewale was now disconnecting her laptop from the projector. Even school was so much different just ten years ago. Now, they had access to reliable power, allowing them to learn with more efficient and effective technology, such as virtual reality classrooms and labs. None of this would have been possible 40 years ago when everything was still dependent on fossil fuels. None of this, Kamsi thought as she packed her books into her bag, would have been possible without hope and faith in Nigeria.
As Kamsi walked down the front steps of her school building, she could hear the chatter of her classmates behind her, making plans for what to do with the rest of their day. Most people were going home or for some after-school activity, and Kamsi wondered what she wanted to do. Two minutes later, she was sitting at her regular shelter, waiting for the streetcar home. In her hands, she held a book she had been reading for weeks now: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DAKORE DIGIFA. The sun was starting to set, the sky settling into a deep shade of orange, and Kamsi suddenly felt a renewed sense of hope for Nigeria’s future. She knew that there were still challenges ahead – all kinds of corruption were still rampant in Nigeria – but she also knew that with the power of solar energy, and faith, anything was possible. She was grateful for a lit Nigeria and excited to be a part of creating an even brighter future for her country.