‘Capital grants, tax holiday critical to renewable energy penetration in Nigeria’
Penetration of renewable energy is considerably low in Nigeria and other Africa countries. What do you think is responsible and how can we begin to change this narrative?
I think a number of factors worked against renewables years back.
One is the mistrust of the technology due to the failure of many of the solar energy projects in the country.
Another is the high upfront cost, and low level of awareness was also a challenge including inadequate support mechanisms from the government. However, the narrative is changing now, thanks to development partners, multilateral organisations, private sector and the government.
For instance, GIZ through the Nigeria Energy Support Programme has just supported five mini-grid projects in various geopolitical zones, the Rural Electrification Agency is also supporting renewable energy projects, among others. However, I must say there is still much to be done.
While private sector participation is increasing in the sub-sector, government needs to increase its support for the renewable energy industry.
Evidences from nations of the world that have made significant improvements on renewable energy uptake show that the effective implementation of capital grants, tax holidays and exemptions, among other incentives, are crucial to developing the sector.
Interestingly, some of these incentives are already included in the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy which was approved in 2015.
I think full and effective implementation of the policy will go a long way to helping the industry in Nigeria.
Do you think there are holistic plans in Nigeria to move from fossil fuel to clean energy?
Like in most developing countries, the urge for renewables in Nigeria is first to improve the conditions of energy access basically to provide modern energy access especially in remote areas. Indeed, there is a plan.
In the draft copy of the Renewable Energy Master Plan (2013 revision), the masterplan has embedded in it a number of national programmes for solar, hydropower, biomass, and wind energy programmes with targets in the short (2013 – 2015), medium (2016 – 2020) and the long term (2021 – 2021).
For instance, going by the masterplan, the government envisioned that Nigeria would have 600 megawatts installed capacity of solar Photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal for electricity generation, and 4100MW installed capacity of hydropower in the country as of 2015.
Indeed, we are much behind these targets now. In general, I will say that is a plan and there are targets; how well we are working in tandem with them is another subject.
But I must acknowledge that in recent time, there has been significant growth in the industry.
What is the International Support Network for African Development (ISNAD-Africa) all about and what do you plan to achieve with the organisation?
The International Support Network for African Development is a pro-African initiative committed to raising global and multi-stakeholder support for greener and climate-resilience in Africa.
From my undergraduate days at the university, I have been part of a number of volunteering activities and I implemented some six education support programmes in Kano state. Like said, I have been passionate about development.
As I grow and become more exposed, I see opportunities to address some of the challenges I have lamented about Nigeria and Africa in general. My question is simple, ‘how can a continent rich in resources be poor in wealth ?’ We are resource-rich yet rank low on most development indices.
For how long shall we continue to perform low on desirable development indices (employment rate, per capital income, electricity access, among others) and high on undesirable development indices (poverty level, level of unemployment, among others).
As the last IMF report, Africa accounts for highest world poorest population, yet, Africa has resources sufficient to take care of our needs.
This made me realise that the need in Africa is majorly that of capacity; we need to develop capacity to transform our enormous resources to wealth.
Hence, my determination to make some contributions in this direction. In summary, I founded ISNAD-Africa to implement initiatives that will facilitate sustainable development in various perspectives in Africa.
While building capacity for other initiatives, we started building capacity on sustainable energy, environment and climate-based subjects.