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close this bookBoiling Point No. 43 - Fuel Options for Household Energy (ITDG - ITDG, 1999, 44 p.)
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Urban household energy and food preparation in Nigeria

by J.O. Olajide and P O Odugbenro, Department of food Science and engineering, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology PMB 4000 Ogbomoso, Nigeria


Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with a population of 88.5 million people and an annual growth rate of 4%. It is an oil-exporting country and the sixth largest producer of crude oil in the world, with the projected oil reserve by the year 2001 standing at 30 billion barrels (Dacosta 1997). The household sector is the largest energy consumer in the economy, accounting for about 90% of the traditional fuels, especially fuelwood, and 25% of the commercial energy.

Commercial energy consumption in Nigeria

Fossil fuel consumption in Nigeria has risen ten-fold in the last two decades, and consumption by urban households accounts for a large percentage of this consumption; a trend which is expected to continue in the future. A rapidly increasing population, increased urbanization, rapid industrial and economic development and an increased drive towards rural development are some of the factors responsible for the increase in energy consumption (Adegbulugbe et al, 1992). According to these authors, the provision of energy services are pre-requisites for economic development and an improved standard of living. Although the need for more energy production is imperative, the increase will affect both the economy and the environment.

Survey on household energy consumption in urban areas

Adegbulugbe et al (1995) carried out a comprehensive study/survey on urban household energy use patterns in Nigeria with respect to income groups, fuel preferences, sources and reliability of energy supply and expenditure. It was found that LPG, kerosene, fuelwood, charcoal and electricity are the major fuels for urban use in Nigeria. Dependence on biomass fuels is rapidly giving way to the use of fossil fuels (especially LPG and kerosene) and electricity in urban households. The reasons given for the observed transition include; convenience, cleanliness and social status. The study reveals the dominance of kerosene, LPG and electricity in all the income groups, while fuelwood is used mostly in the low-income groups (Figure 1).

Fuel supply and prices

Fossil fuel prices are relatively uniform because they are dictated by the government through the various relevant government owned corporations responsible for their production.

However, due to the inability of the refineries to operate at full capacity since 1993, because of poor maintenance, there are frequent shut-downs leading to crippling shortages. Marketeers regularly take advantage to hike the prices of fuels by 300-500%. As a result, most households have to fall back to using charcoal and sawdust.

Electricity supplies from the national grid are also unreliable. Some households belonging to the high-income group have standby generators, which are used during power failures. Households that cannot afford these, depend on kerosene lamps for lighting.

The consumption pattern of household energy

In the study, it was found that 75% of the total kerosene consumption, 10.5% of the total electricity, 96% of LPG and 100% of fuelwood goes to cooking and water heating. In the few households where charcoal is used, 20.3% was used in cooking and water heating. Most of the electricity and LPG are consumed by the high income groups who can afford the high capital and maintenance costs of appliances such as gas cookers, gas lamps, televisions, videos, electric fans and air conditioning.

Figure 1: Average consumption of household fuels (MJ/household/day)


Adegbulugbe et al (1992) Energy master plan for rural Development; Nigeria case study, Vol. I-IV. Study report of EEC project submitted to the EEC delegation in Nigeria

Adegbulugbe et al (1995). Urban household energy use patterns in Nigeria. Natural Resources Forum Vol 19 No 2 pp. 125-133

Dacosta, K. (1997) Fuel importation, Guardian Newspaper, publication 6911, 14 October, 1997