Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Laws




Steyn, Elizabeth A.

2nd Supervisor

Nicholls, Christopher C.



This thesis posits that small-scale renewable electricity is no longer merely an option for Nigeria, but a necessity in order to achieve the desired energy transition. The research also shows how the Nigerian electricity sector can be reformed through three mechanisms namely: decentralization, deregulation and a low carbon foot print. It proposes legal and institutional reforms to cure the intermittent availability problems inherent in renewable energy sources. This is achieved by drawing a comparative lesson from the Ontarian and South Australian electricity models. This thesis adopts a historical, analytical and interdisciplinary approach to conclude that there is need for a mandatory restructured platform which substitutes the national approach to electricity matters for a state-based approach solely based on injecting the prominent renewable energy sources in Nigeria (solar, wind and hydro) into the grid.

Summary for Lay Audience

Electrical energy involves the flow of electrons generated from either renewable or conventional energy sources. Renewable sources include: solar; wind; hydro power; wave; tidal; and geothermal. Conventional energy sources include fossil fuels –oil, natural gas, coal– as well as nuclear power. The Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry utilizes fossil fuels, which are emitting sources, and this has led to serious negative consequences for the environment and the economy.

The three main electricity sector activities are: generation (producing power in generating plants); transmission (the bulk transfer of electricity over long distances from the power station where it was produced, using transmission lines); and distribution (transferring the transmitted electricity from the substation to end users).

This thesis shows how a safe transition can be made in the Nigerian power sector from over dependence on conventional energy generation sources to cleaner sources through the use of smaller grid outlets in underserved and un-served areas. Nigeria does not have nuclear capacity, thus nuclear power does not pose an option. The proposed transition is illustrated through two forms of small-scale electricity generation: grid connected mini grids -attached to the main grid- or off-grid outlets -developed in areas far from the grid.

In developing a unique model for Nigeria, the thesis considered two prominent jurisdictions that have recorded strategic success in the energy sector, namely, Ontario and South Australia. A comparison reveals that adopting a smaller unit perspective addresses the problem of inadequate access to electricity, while also mitigating the environmental problems associated with overdependence on conventional energy sources. It concludes that instead of striving to provide electricity for the entire nation through a single grid, diversification should be encouraged. This can be achieved by incorporating renewable energy sources in the power sector, increasing the resilience of the existing grid through laws that encourage technological investments and establishing five new grids in addition to the existing grid. However, all these outcomes require deep changes to the legal framework presently in force. This thesis therefore analyzes the existing Nigerian legislative framework and proposes several amendments to it that will enable the above practical outcomes to take shape.