Stakeholders raise concerns over future of energy in Nigeria
Nigeria’s readiness to transition to cleaner energy amidst pressing global and local demand for sustainable and environmentally-friendly sources continue to emerge as a source of concern for stakeholders across the country as the energy outlook remains unclear.
Experts from different sectors, who converged virtually at the OLAN First Annual Future Series, tagged: “Talking Sustainability and Energy Transition: The Future of Living,” insisted that Nigeria risks becoming a dumpsite of phased out internal combustion engine automobiles from Western Europe, North America, and other developed countries.
The development comes amid deadlines being set by countries and global automakers to completely phase out vehicles using internal combustion engines. General Motors, North America’s leading automaker that accounts for over 17 per cent of the country’s production of cars and light trucks, and Honda, the world’s largest engine manufacturer, are notable drivers of this paradigm shift.
While Nigeria and some other African countries rely mainly on fossil fuels for revenue and energy needs, convener of the forum, who is also the Co-founder, Sustainability School Lagos, Dr. Olufemi Olarewaju, noted that oil for road transport represented almost 50 per cent of the share of world oil consumption in 2017, citing the International Energy Agency.
This raises concerns on the impact a significant drop in demand for hydrocarbon road transport fuel would have on the security of demand for Nigeria’s oil.
Other looming challenges that could result from the global drive towards cleaner fuel for automobiles, according to Olarewaju include end of life policies for phased out internal combustion automobiles that are expected to be imported to countries like Nigeria and the demand for new clean energy transport and other infrastructure in the country.
Understanding and mitigating potential negative outcomes of these trends must become an urgent priority for stakeholders, especially policymakers, stakeholders noted.
With the growing threat from the changing climate, Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries and signatories to the historic Paris Climate Agreement recognizes Africa’s dramatic vulnerability to climate change.
Olarewaju noted that countries like Nigeria could suffer more than others because of the difficulty in adapting and responding to the impacts of climate change because of insufficient resources. He added that this challenge may however represent an opportunity for access to affordable and clean energy, which is essential to accelerating Africa’s economic development and enhancing its population’s living standards.
He said: “The key national sustainable development question of how 440 million Nigerians in the year 2050 will remain prosperous without hurting the country’s natural systems should be at the forefront of policy discourse and implementation strategy, starting now.
“Achieving this sustainable development imperative for the country will require a focused and driven balancing of a sustainable energy system made up of the trilemma of energy equity, energy security, and environmental sustainability.”
There are however worried over Nigeria’s investment climate, as unless stakeholders, especially political actors, create an enabling environment to encourage private sector investments in sustainable energy solutions, the country risks continuous dependence on fossil fuels.
For a hydrocarbon-rich country like Nigeria, Olarewaju argued that maximizing hydrocarbon resource utilization by investing in resource-development and improvements of institutions are some of the key implementable policy directions for the country.
He added that while Nigeria’s interest in developing its gas resources and ensuring domestic utilisation remains a step in the right direction for equitable power generation that is intended to invigorate the economy and drive sustainable living in the built environment, there remains the need for focused communication of the country’s energy future policy direction. This will require a clear direction from leadership, coordination, and collaboration.
Stakeholders also canvassed for policy development, clean energy education and workforce, as well as global cooperation and participation.
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