By Hauwa Ali
Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has urged African countries to rely on natural gas for electricity consumption so as to reduce Africa’s emissions to 0.62% compared to global emissions.
The vice-president spoke in Lagos recently, while delivering his keynote address at the 60th anniversary dinner of the oil producers trade section at the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
According too him, the defunding of gas projects to force gas rich countries like Nigeria to stop using gas and use renewables instead was faulty.
He said that no economy in the world had been known to use renewables solely to industrialise as solar power simply did not have the base load capacity yet for industry.
“Stopping the use of gas means that we cannot use Liquefied Petroleum Gas(LPG) for clean cooking stoves to replace the use of kerosene, firewood and charcoal which are dirtier fuels that are widely used for cooking and other domestic purposes, particularly in the rural areas.
“ The use of firewood means cutting down trees and of course desertification and then the loss of our carbon sinks.” He said.
The vice president further analysed the double standards that wealthier countries have adopted on this issue.
“Today in the wake of the energy crisis, many European nations have made recent announcements to increase or extend their use of coal fired power generation through 2023, and potentially beyond.
“ This is in violation of their climate commitments, and analysis suggests that this will raise power sector emissions of the EU by 4 per cent — a significant amount given the high base denominator of EU emissions.’’
Osinbajo said that the most crucial point was that Nigeria must take quick and informed actions in its national interest.
He said that the country must take the threat of no investments in fossil fuels including gas seriously.
“For an example, many European and other global North countries are setting aggressive targets for use of electric vehicles and the banning of combustion engine vehicles.
“ Soon there may be only a few countries using combustion engines; it is also evident that while the Russia- Ukrainian war has shown the hypocrisy in not allowing public funding for fossil fuel projects, the wealthier nations are still of the view that this is the correct policy and that even if public funding is to be allowed financing should not go beyond 2035.
“So far our response has been the Energy Transition Plan–a comprehensive, data-driven and evidence-based plan, designed to deal with the twin crises of climate change and energy poverty.
“ We anchored the plan on key objectives, including lifting 100 million people out of poverty in a decade, driving economic growth, bringing modern energy services to the full population and managing the expected long-term job loss in the oil sector due to global decarbonisation,’’ he said.
He said that the plan recognised the role natural gas must play in the short term to facilitate the establishment of base load energy capacity and address the nation’s clean cooking deficit in the form of LPG.
The vice president urged the private sector to step up its participation in the transition to green energy journey.
He particularly urged Nigeria to adopt the strategy of natural gas to industrialise. He posited that there was no economy in the world that has known to have used only renewable energy to industrialise. He advocated that Nigeria should exploit its abundant natural gas resources. The vice president also called for debtfor- climate swaps, which could benefit Nigeria.
He, therefore, asked oil producers in the country to take the lead in solar electrification adaptation across Nigeria. He noted that Shell was sponsoring off-grid activities of AllOn and Konexa and urged other oil producers to invest in the sector, so as to close energy gaps in the country, adding that, Nigeria in 2021, ranked fifth globally in sales volume for key off-grid solar markets.
But by 2040, the Nigerian government plans to achieve 100 per cent rural electrification with five per cent through stand-alone solar solutions. Osinbajo further said that Africa, being the least continent carbon emitter in the world, could industrialise using natural gas.
He stated that if all African countries, with the exception of South Africa, were to triple electricity consumption using only natural gas, the continent would add only 0.62 per cent to global emissions.