Widening electricity gap, loopholes in PIB worry experts
Energy experts yesterday in Abuja raised fresh concerns over the growing gap in access to electricity and other energy sources as over 940 million people, especially in Africa and about 3 billion world population continues to lack access to electricity and clean fuels for cooking.
The industry players, who spoke ahead of the Nigerian Association for Energy Economists (NAEE) conference, where Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, and other stakeholders are expected to discuss leeway to critical energy issues, particularly indexes that have been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, also picked holes in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which may soon be presented to the President for assent.
Nigeria and other African countries are rated worst in terms of energy access. And President of NAEE, Yinka Omorogbe insisted that the effects of the pandemic worsened existing challenges.
Without very innovative solutions that would ensure a sustainable approach, Omorogbe noted that the poverty level may escalate amidst the growing population.
Indeed, with a dismal economic outlook, evident in growing inequality, widening fiscal deficit, high cost of goods, and continuous weakening of the naira against the major currency, Omorogbe noted a robust strategic plan would be necessary to enable the country to navigate prevailing challenges.
“We need to have some informed and strategic discussions. This is why we have chosen to critically consider what the strategic responses of the energy sector should be to the impacts of COVID-19 on Africa, and its countries,” Hhe said.
With the government taking a stand to continue to explore the nation’s existing resources and not join the race to the net-zero emission, Omorogbe stressed the need to evolve, build capacity, innovate and move in line with the global community.
“There’s so much innovation that is happening now. That’s one thing we need to realise. This is not the time for us to be seeing oil spillage, this is not the time for us to be allowing archaic practices that are not allowed in other parts of the world. There are lots of things that we need to do.
“How prepared is our population for this. We now have a crisis in the education system, how are we going to get the young people that are going to be able to cope with all these different things happening in the area of technology? What is the state of our research? There are lots of questions we need to ask ourselves?
Noting that the PIB has holes, Omorogbe said there may not be perfect legislation, adding that there are critical questions that experts must engage and explain for better understanding.
Also speaking at the conference, renowned energy scholar at the University of Ibadan, Adeola Adenikinju said addressing the nation’s economic quagmire without prioritising modern energy would remain a mirage.
He decried the dismal outlook of the nation’s revenue, particularly from the oil and gas sector due to the COVID-19 induced challenges.
Adenikinju said: “Oil and gas sector is the engine of growth of this country. Oil benchmark for the budget was drastically reduced last year because of COVID-19; that impacted our economy significantly and you can see what happened to the deficit.
“The question is that post-COVID-19, how can we restructure? How do we start to adjust to the global economy? How do we move from a carbon-based economy?”
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