Because of its potential to be both affordable long-term and renewable, solar energy is considered one of the main ways for Nigeria to reach its electricity goals. Unfortunately, the adoption of solar energy isn’t happening as quickly as one might expect. Three recent studies reveal that the main obstacles for solar adoption in Nigeria include technical, financial, legislative, and social barriers.
Using a unique lens to understand the barriers
Technically, there is a lack of skilled personnel to meet a code of standard procedure in installing and maintaining solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Financially, the high initial costs of PV systems make solar energy unaffordable for both potential entrepreneurs and consumers. Legislation-wise, the lack of adequate and supportive regulatory measures hinders the development and promotion of solar energy initiatives. And socially, the low level of consumer awareness and understanding of the benefits of solar PV, mixed with general public resistance to new technology, remain obstacles to the implementation of solar energy across the country.
In order to mitigate these barriers and encourage solar energy adoption in the country, it’s beneficial to think about the barriers through the lens of Jobs Theory. The theory of Jobs to Be Done is a framework that demystifies customer behavior and their consumption priorities. This theory makes clear that customers don’t simply buy products and services; instead, they “hire” them into their lives to make progress toward a need or goal. Understanding why the product is hired—including the functional, emotional, and social dimensions—helps innovators more accurately develop products and services that align with customer needs, thereby increasing consumption of the product or service.
In summation, understanding why solar energy adoption isn’t happening as quickly as one would expect in Nigeria will only help innovators better address these barriers and develop solar products and services that better fit the functional, emotional, and social needs of Nigerians.
Addressing barriers to increase solar energy consumption
The technical barrier: Innovators need to address reliability issues caused by the lack of skilled personnel needed to install and maintain solar PV systems. A possible way to do this is if entrepreneurs can train and provide maintenance support personnel as part of their services, which would establish the reliability that customers are seeking.
The financial barrier: Innovators could address the lack of initial capital needed for solar deployment and development by making financial resources, such as credit, subsidies, or installment payment options accessible to both entrepreneurs and potential consumers.
The legislative barrier: Policymakers need to address the uncertainty caused by the lack of regulations that support solar energy. More specifically, the lack of adequate regulations for the acquisition of land permits for solar farms, and for community relation negotiation procedures. Clear policies and procedures must exist for every step of the process from initial land acquisition to final e-waste management.
The social barriers: Resistance to new technologies is often due to sociocultural perceptions. Sociocultural factors, like national, regional, and community social norms influence people’s feelings, values, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, and interactions. Examples include social classes, religious beliefs, wealth distribution, language, business practices, social values, customer preferences, social organization, and attitudes toward work. Therefore, it’s essential that innovators create and promote educational and awareness campaigns that move beyond addressing economical benefits to other socio-cultural issues, such as the reputation of utility suppliers, concerns for the environment, and technology affinity.
Each of these barriers to solar adoption presents a functional, social, or emotional obstacle for either or both entrepreneurs and consumers in Nigeria. Understanding what type of obstacle it is and how it interferes with the job that needs to get done can help innovators understand what priorities to address when developing their solar energy products, services, and campaigns; and, ultimately, boost energy consumption in Nigeria.