a comparative analysis of newspaper coverage of electricity in nigeria
1.1 Background of the Study
One of the major energy challenges in the world today is ensuring access to clean and sustainable energy in developing countries. International Energy Agency IEA (2010) estimated that in 2008 about 1.4 billion people in the world lacked access to electricity of which 587 million were in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Most of these people live in rural areas. The lack of access to electricity poses a significant barrier to achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs). For example, to achieve universal primary education, educational facilities need electricity for teaching aids, good lighting for reading in homes; to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, health facilities need refrigerators to preserve drugs and vaccines and need electricity for proper lighting for effective service delivery. Studies have shown that there is a high correlation between annual per capita electricity consumption and human development index (Meisen & Akin, 2008). The government of these countries faces the Herculean task of providing access to electricity to improve the living standard of the populace because the availability of electricity stimulates economic activities. The situation is not different in Nigeria. In 2008, about 53% of Nigerians lacked access to electricity (WHO/UNDP, 2009), although at the different geopolitical zones, the situation is significantly different. It has been observed that the lack of electricity access is more severe in the northern parts of Nigeria with the North-East geopolitical zone having 71.6%. Co-incidentally, the North-East geopolitical zone lags behind other zones in other socio-economic indices like literacy level, access to health care, maternal mortality, access to clean water etc (UNFPA, 2008). Given the importance of electricity access to the socio-economic development of a country at micro and macro levels, in August 2010, the Nigerian government set the target of 80% electricity coverage by 2015 in the Roadmap to Power Sector Reforms (Jonathan, 2010). As electricity utility has been privatized, providing electricity for these rural dwellers implies constructing transmission and distribution lines to reach the communities. However, extending the transmission and distribution a line is capital intensive, as such, it is considered only when it is cost-beneficial.
Moreover, most rural communities have dispersed settlement pattern and rural dwellers are low income earners who will need electricity only for basic needs of cooking, lighting, refrigeration, entertainment, and to power small-scale agro-based businesses and other enterprises like soap making, tailoring, hairdressing, weaving etc. Thus extending the grid will lead to low capacity utilization due to low demand. Since private firms are usually driven by profit maximization motives, they may be unwilling to extend the distribution network to these rural communities as it will not be a viable investment. This situation gives rise to the possibility of providing electricity access in some of these rural communities using off-grid electrification. World Bank (2008) notes that off-grid electrification is usually considered when providing electricity access to small rural communities far from the existing gird, with dispersed settlement pattern and are low income earners. Off-grid electrification provides similar benefits as grid extension in terms of enhancing the standard of living and stimulating the creation of micro-enterprises that increase overall economic benefit, although the available power is lower. Foley (1990) lists the gains of off-grid electrification to include pumping of water in the village and farming environment, and provision of electricity for heating, lighting, and cooking which provide the necessities of life to these rural dwellers. Different technical options can be considered in implementing off-grid models e.g. Biomass, Wind, Hydro, Solar Power, or the combination of two technologies (Kerridge et al., 2008). The use of each technology depends on the domestic resources available. Communities close to a river will likely use mini hydroelectric projects, and communities with high solar irradiation will likely use solar energy.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Erratic power supply has remained a major problem in Nigeria which is affecting the socio-economy of the nation. Nigeria is still using out-dated cumbersome machines and systems compared to the trends of new technology. Therefore, the study seeks to look at the problems encountered by nations electricity power supply to various sectors. Also it seeks to assess the reportage of the two national dailies, The Daily Trust and Leadership Newspapers on the issue of power supply on the Nigeria economy, institution of learning and area of health delivery.
1.3 Research Objectives
The study has the following objectives:
1. To identify how often Daily Trust and Leadership newspapers have covered news on the impact of electricity on Nigeria economy.
2. To assess the extent to which Daily Trust and Leadership cover news on the impact of electricity on institution of learning.
3. To ascertain the attention that has been given to the coverage of news on the impact of electricity on health delivery.
1.4 Research Questions
From the above stated objectives arises the following research question:
1. How often do Daily Trust and Leadership newspapers cover news on the impact of electricity on Nigeria economy?
2. To what extent have the two newspapers covered the impact of electricity on institutions of learning?
3. How much attention has been given to the coverage of news on the impact of electricity on health delivery by the two newspapers?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Media helps to carry out information to citizens of particular societies; it is also the same function that mass media performs in Nigeria. According to McQuail (2002), mass media is a means of communication that operates on a large scale, reaching and involving virtually everyone in a society to a greater or lesser degree. Mass media especially the print, ‘newspaper’ plays a major role in informing the citizens on the issue of power sector in the country
The researcher tends to highlight the coverage by newspapers given to national power sector. Mass media especially the print,‘newspaper’ plays a major role in informing the citizens on the issue of power sector in the country.
Mass media as medium of communication has indeed remain one of the platforms of conveying messages across and way of life to relatively large heterogeneous and anonymous readership in Nigeria.
This study is significant to Nigeria society because it will help in making Nigeria mass media to play its role in promoting communication sector, it also unravel the reasons why journalist need to put more emphasis in their work in order to attain the certain objectives.
1.6 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to examine the role of print media in the power sector, specifically newspaper, it is very important for the media to show more concern on government policy of the power sector so as to impact on local economic development, strategies and measures adopted to resolve the problems and possible pathways to reviving the electricity sector in Nigeria.
The researcher tends to highlight the coverage by newspapers given to national power sector.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The research work is restricted to the coverage of the impact of electricity on Nigeria economy, in the Daily Trust and Leadership newspapers. The period of coverage is between January and May 2015.
1.8 Definition of Key Terms
Newspaper: The newspaper is described as a collection of folded printed sheet of papers published periodically, usually daily or weekly for circulating news.
Coverage: Media attention given to an event or topic by newspapers, radio, and television in their reporting.
Electricity: Physics energy created by moving charged particle, a fundamental form of kinetic or potential energy created by free or controlled movement of charged particles such as electrons, positrons and irons.
Watchdog of the Society: This term refers to the media as a watchdog to the society in the sense that media as the forth realm arm of government which sit in between the public’s and the government as mediator for interference.
Media: This refers to all those media technologies such as television, radio, internet, newspaper, magazine etc. that are intended to reach a large audience by mass communication.