The sun in the night

Using solar power to tackle energy poverty in Nigeria.

Nigeria has the capacity to export two million barrels of oil per day, the highest export rate of any African nation. Some of these fossil fuels end up in Canada. In 2021, Canada bought 2.1 billion dollars of Nigerian products including mineral fuels and oils, cocoa, rubber and lead. Yet despite Nigeria’s wealth of non-renewable energy resources, 41 percent of the country’s 200 million inhabitants have no access to electricity. Instead of plugging into a nationwide power grid, these Nigerians are forced to buy high-emissions gas or diesel generators to fuel their homes and businesses.

In 2014, Chuks Umezulora, an industrial chemist with 15 years of experience in the solar industry, and his brother, Uche, founded Auxano Solar Nigeria Limited as an environmentally conscious solution to Nigeria’s electricity access challenges.

Counting the costs

Auxano aims to offer competitive prices on the solar solutions they manufacture, assemble and install. But setting up solar power still isn’t cheap.

“The cost of acquisition is usually high,” admits Umezulora. “It is like asking somebody to pay for all of the energy they are going to use for the next three years upfront.”

But Umezulora pointed to hopeful and practical solutions.

“Grants and incentives have come up and have been tailored toward the less privileged. USADF, Power Africa, World Bank, Bank of Industry and Allon have been [contributors] in a bid to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.” Umezulora says that Nigerian banks are considering consumer financing, as they do for cars.

Some Auxano customers choose to start with just 20 watts of power and build up to solar dependence gradually. These customers may also see lower costs in the future as technology continues to improve.

“Renewable energy is not as expensive as people think,” explains Umezulora. “In the long run, they save on their energy bill.”

Izuchukwu Okpala, Auxano’s Assembly Plant Manager.
One of Auxano’s solar arrays.

Overcoming barriers

Manufacturing is a tough business that requires capital. Umezulora says that investors shy away when it comes to manufacturing and are more interested in mini-grids. These are small energy distribution networks separate from the main energy grid. Mini-grids can supply the needs of a village, a community with residences and public buildings, or sometimes a whole island, but they’re not enough to solve Nigeria’s long-term energy problems.

Nigeria needs to be industrialized, says Umezulora, and the government should subsidize the cost of energy production rather than consumption. He also believes that “every country should transition to renewable energy at their own pace, start with what they have and not feel the pressure to meet up with the pace of developed nations.”

A bright future

In 2015, the Nigerian Energy Awards recognized Auxano as The Most Innovative Energy Company. They’ve also had visitors from major national and international organizations, like the World Bank.

Auxano has branches in three major Nigerian cities with plans to partner with more companies across West Africa. They hope to expand at a slow pace and work with local partners in neighbouring countries. These local players will help the company with market penetration and knowledge. Meanwhile, Auxano will offer training, products and technical skills.

Umezulora sees hope on the horizon. “This is one industry that I’m positive is going to be the future of energy in Nigeria.”

more examples, please

This article is part of Christian Courier’s ongoing series on innovation in the energy sector, and part of our overall mission to help Canadian Christians transition to more sustainable lifestyles.  If you know of an entrepreneur who is balancing the equation between justice and climate care, email ac.reiruocnaitsirhc@rotide because we’d love to meet them!


  • Femare Okemena

    Femare Okemena is a Nigerian-Canadian freelance writer based in Edmonton, Alta. Her expertise includes doing interviews, copy writing, blogposts, writing ad copy, web copy, white papers, and ghostwriting. Femare is a mother who loves to watch movies, sing, bake and cook. She also loves art and photography. Her current project is a historical fictional piece.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *