Blog post

The impacts of electrification on labour market outcomes: the case of Nigeria

In Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, expanding access to electricity has contributed to increasing labour market participation and transforming the e

Publishing date
08 July 2020

The articles on which this blopost is based was originally published in Springer Link.


Since the late nineteenth century, industrialised countries have owed a large part of their development and growing prosperity to electricity. All industrial activities require it, and it is also essential for the provision of clean water, sanitation and healthcare; efficient lighting, heating, cooking, use of mechanical power, transport and telecommunication services.

Access to affordable and reliable electricity remains one of the fundamental obstacles to reach several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). However, 840 million people across the world still lack access to electricity. Two thirds of them live in sub-Saharan Africa: 573 million people, or more than half sub-Saharan Africa’s inhabitants.

This blogpost, based on an scientific article originally published in Springer’s Economica Politica, in presents the main results of a rigorous econometric analysis assessing the effect of electricity access on labour market outcomes in Nigeria. Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, home to the world’s second largest population without access to electricity after India.

As of 2018, about 60% of the Nigerian population had access to electricity: 80% in urban areas, and 40% in rural areas. Put differently: 77 million people still lacked access to electricity in the biggest economy in Africa. Electricity consumption per capita is also particularly low by African standards: 146 kWh per year in Nigeria between 2010 and 2014, versus a subcontinental average of 494 kWh. The unreliability of electricity supply in the country has historically been one of the main obstacles to the successful development of productive activities. In 2014, approximately 50% of firms in Nigeria identified electricity as a ‘major’ or ‘very severe’ obstacle to their operations, and more than 30% stated that it was the main obstacle to their operations. The problem is particularly acute in rural areas.

Our econometric analysis assessed the impact of electrification on male and female employment in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors.

With access to electricity, the proportion of household members of working age who are employed increases by an average of around 8%. This change is brought about by a shift away from agricultural employment (7% fewer people working in this sector), in favour of non-agricultural employment, with a boost of about 15%.

While the effects are relatively similar for male and female employment in agricultural activities, the effects for male employment in non-agricultural activities appear to be three times as strong thanfor female employment. These results take into account other variables, including electricity connection at village level, former connection status of the household, and former employment level in different sectors.

In line with previous studies, our results show that in Nigeria this effect is stronger for wealthier households and in urban areas. Importantly, however, positive effects are also significant for poorer households and in rural areas. On average, for households from the lowest wealth quintile living in rural areas, 3.6% more people would be employed, including a significant reallocation of employment to non-agricultural activities (+9.6%).

These findings show that the expansion of electricity access to households which are not yet connected to the grid could play a significant role in increasing labour market participation, and helping the transformation of the Nigerian economy away from agricultural activities.

Recommended citation:

Tagliapietra S. (2020) 'The impacts of electrification on labour market outcomes: the case of Nigeria', Bruegel Blog, 08 July, available at

About the authors

  • Simone Tagliapietra

    Simone Tagliapietra is a Senior fellow at Bruegel. He is also a Professor of EU Energy and Climate Policy at The Johns Hopkins University - School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Europe.

    His research focuses on the EU climate and energy policy and on the political economy of global decarbonisation. With a record of numerous policy and scientific publications, also in leading journals such as Nature and Science, he is the author of Global Energy Fundamentals (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and co-author of The Macroeconomics of Decarbonisation (Cambridge University Press, 2024).

    His columns and policy work are widely published and cited in leading international media such as the BBC, CNN, Financial Times, The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Corriere della Sera, Le Monde, El Pais, and several others.

    Simone also is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Clean Air Task Force (CATF). He holds a PhD in Institutions and Policies from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Born in the Dolomites in 1988, he speaks Italian, English and French.

  • Robert Kalcik

    Robert Kalcik works as research assistant at Bruegel in the area of Energy and Climate with a focus on innovation policy. A native Austrian, he previously worked as data analyst for an international consultancy supporting evidence-based policy making for education authorities in Australia and the Middle East. He conducted research for the Austrian National Bank, the University of Melbourne and the Sustainable Europe Research Institute.

    Robert holds an MSc in Economics from the University of Vienna where his master thesis focused on international environmental agreements. His personal interest lies in machine learning applications and open data.

  • Enrico Nano

    Enrico, an Italian citizen, works at Bruegel as a Research Assistant in the area of innovation and competition policy, with a focus on energy and climate. Prior to joining Bruegel, Enrico worked at the European Commission as a Blue Book trainee at DG Connect and as a business analyst intern at UniCredit Bank in Moscow.

    He holds a MSc and a BSc in Economics from the University of Turin and a MA in Economics from the Collegio Carlo Alberto, where he completed the Allievi Honors Program. His master thesis in Health Economics focused on the socioeconomic determinants of health outcomes, with an empirical application to cognitive recovery after traumatic brain injuries.

    Enrico’s research interests include empirical microeconomics, innovation and industrial policy, health and development economics.

    He is fluent in Italian and English, and has a basic knowledge of Spanish and French.

  • Giovanni Occhiali

Related content


European natural gas imports

This dataset aggregates daily data on European natural gas import flows and storage levels.

Georg Zachmann, Ben McWilliams, Ugnė Keliauskaitė and Giovanni Sgaravatti