Following the dearth of funding from the Nigerian government and donor agencies for research into alternative energy sources, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) have urged the government to grant zero tariffs on renewable energy products for greater energy access in the country.
The group made the plea during a one-day renewable energy conference, funded by Friends of the Earth Norway, which brought together civil society, development groups, government officials and community-based groups who shared experiences and analyzed critically issues concerning energy policy in Nigeria.
Participants noted that since energy remains critical for development, individuals and civil society groups must amplify calls for a halt to the fossil fuel economy and a change to clean alternatives such as solar, wind and mini-hydro projects, among others.
In a communique issued at end of the conference, the participants observed that Nigeria has largely paid lip service to increasing power generation to meet the demand of the teeming population and become a dumping ground for substandard alternative energy products from the developed economies.
They noted that Nigeria’s energy policies are deficient, lack community perspectives and the political will to follow through implementation; most private investors in energy systems in Nigeria are more interested in profits than actually bridging the nation’s energy deficit, while funding for research and development is lacking in Nigeria’s drive to energy sovereignty.
The participants, therefore recommended reform of the renewable energy policy and proposal for a renewable energy policy bill; promotion of decentralized alternative energy with a focus on renewables, which must be affordable and environment- friendly
The groups also suggested that clean and safe community alternative energy models be vigorously pursued to deliver on community energy needs that are off-grid and mini-grids.
They further expressed the need to develop a renewable energy development model that is back by an Act of Parliament; government should divest funding, loans and subsidies from fossil fuel development and oil prospecting and instead invest in renewable sources of energy.
Earlier, Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo stated that the dramatic slump in the price of oil from about US$148 per barrel barely a year ago to less than US$40 currently has reawaken the urgent need for diversification and de-carbonisation of Nigeria’s economy.
“Fossil fuels are finite and dirty energy that coal, oil and gas, bitumen, and nuclear represent, which are deleterious to the environment.
“While government should invest in research and roll out programmes for energy access, it should also ensure that the high tariffs placed on renewable energy gadgets are promptly removed to zero tariffs to promote greater energy access,” Ojo said.
For the group, Nigeria should key into the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) by developing plans and programmes to improve universal clean energy access and reach the prescribed new and additional renewable energy generation capacity and targets of at least 10GW by 2020 and at least 300GW in Africa by 2030.
He said: “A robust energy policy and monetary incentives will not only serve to actualize substantial part of Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Commitment to reducing carbon emissions from the atmosphere but would position Nigeria as the hub for Renewable Energy development in Africa.
“Such policy framework should include the concept of decentralization and energy democracy whereby individuals and communities are co-producers, suppliers and beneficiaries of an energy investment with roles and responsibilities as well as sharing of benefits to the end users rather than giant monopolistic energy entities.”