As global community sets timeline from black gold to renewable energy, what next for Nigeria?

EnergyDay Editorial Board

Initially, it belonged in the world of science fiction popularized by such futuristic writers as H.G Wells, Jules Verne and other sci-fio genrists, today, the future described by those writers is very much with us, before our very eyes.

The world is gradually easing out crude oil out of its prime place, replacing it with electricity as oil of the future to power automobiles and aircraft.
Similarly, electricity generation is transiting from the use of resources such as coal to what is termed, ‘cleaner energy.’ Energy sources which emit carbon dioxide are now seen as an enemy to earth and its inhabitants.

Accordingly, the other more serious nations have taken control of their destiny and moved forward in great leap with technology, EnergyDay is miffed at the reality of Nigeria being left behind.
Like most stakeholders and concerned citizens, this newspaper is disturbed that our political leaders at all levels, seem unaware of the gradual global transition from oil to other renewable sources of energy.
As a nation we seem not to realise that our status as oil-producing cum natural resources dependent country is being threatened by the new push towards renewable energy. Our leaders and policy makers are seated in a comfort zones believing all is well, even when evidence points to the contrary.

Just as the controversy over the allocation for host communities posited in the petroleum industry bill (PIB) is yet to settle, a law compelling Power Generating Companies in the country to set aside five per cent of the revenue they generate from selling electricity for communities hosting electricity installations was approved for final reading in the House of Representatives earlier in the month.

The Bill entitled: “An Act to Amend the Electric Power Sector Reforms Act, to Provide for the Reservation of 5 Percent of all Revenue Accruing from Power Generating Companies in Nigeria for the Development of the Host Communities”, was sponsored by Rep. Babajimi Benson(APC-Lagos).

While we are busy strategizing and positioning our state for rental economy, the world in the same space of time are going aglow with the news of billionaires Jeff Bezos of the Amazon and Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic harnessing the economic value of going to the outer space.

But more frightening to EnergyDay is the gradual onset of the age of electric cars, as Europe has come with a timeline of 2035 to transition completely from petrol -powered cars to electric- powered ones.

All-electric vehicles (EVs), also referred to as battery electric vehicles, use a battery pack to store the electrical energy that powers the motor. EV batteries are charged by plugging the vehicle in to an electric power source. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, all-electric vehicles are categorised as zero-emission vehicles because they produce no direct exhaust or tailpipe emissions.

Both heavy-duty and light-duty EVs are commercially available. EVs are typically more expensive than similar conventional and hybrid vehicles, although some cost can be recovered through fuel savings, a federal tax credit, or state incentives.

An electric aircraft on the other hand, according to EnergyDay findings, is an aircraft powered by electricity, almost always via one or more electric motors which drive propellers. Electricity may be supplied by a variety of methods, the most common being batteries or solar cells.

The Velis Electro became the first type certificated manned electric aircraft on 10 June 2020.
Electrically powered model aircraft have been flown since the 1970s or possibly earlier. They have since developed into unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones, which in the twenty-first century have become widely used for many purposes.

Although manned flights in an electrically-powered tethered helicopter go back to 1917 and in airships to the previous century, the first manned free flight by an electrically powered aeroplane, the MB-E1, was not made until October 1973 and most manned electric aircraft today are still only experimental prototypes.

Between 2015 and 2016, Solar Impulse 2 completed a circumnavigation of the Earth using solar power. More recently, interest in electric passenger aircraft has grown, for both commercial airliners and personal air vehicles.

In the face of this development, the Nigerian government declared the year 2021-2030 as a decade of gas. The government, through the ministry of Petroleum Resources last year launched a program to convert petrol using vehicles to gas. It appears the program started and ended with the usual ceremonial funfair.

EnergyDay recall that in 1959, when Fidel Castro took over the reins of power in Cuba after defeating the opposing forces of Fulgencio Batista, who had earlier imprisoned him, he decided to make the small country a communist state.

This pitted him against the United States in the then heady days of the Cold War when the US which prided herself as the leader of the free world was determined to stop the growing influence of the defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Under President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, he sponsored some Cuban dissidents with the help of the CIA to topple the government of Castro in the famous Bay of Pigs Invasion which ended up in a gargantuan fiasco. An embargo was placed on Cuba and its main revenue earner, sugar, greatly suffered.

Castro rose up to the challenge by investing massively in education and making it free at the primary and secondary levels and highly subsidised at the tertiary. He focused greatly on the training of medical doctors.

Today, the main revenue earner of Cuba is in her exportation of medical doctors around the world which brings in billions of dollars to her. The demand for doctors is inelastic as doctors will be needed as long as the world exists and so they can hardly even meet the global demand for them.

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, has unveiled the country’s Vision 2030 which has the grand ambition to end the Kingdom’s dependence on oil by dedicating $2 trillion of their Sovereign Wealth Fund to prepare her for a post-oil economy.

EnergyDay finds it worrisome that Nigeria is yet to come to terms with the reality of a post-oil cum natural resources dependent economy as she lives as though the demand for the black gold will be there forever.

To date, there is no bold plan to wean her economy off total oil/natural resources dependence. It is ridiculous that many of our governors cannot pay salaries of civil servants and pensioners as and when due because of the paucity of funds that accrue to them from the Federation Account.

Before the discovery of oil in commercial quantities, Nigeria was developed on the back of agriculture. It was the revenues from cocoa that made the then Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, build the Cocoa House, Liberty Stadium, established the Western Nigeria Television which was the first in Africa at a time when many countries in Europe didn’t have it, introduced the free primary education scheme and even scholarships for young westerners desirous of university education.

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Dr. Michael Okpara built the Eastern Region which at the zenith of Okpara’s premiership was described as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa on the back of palm oil and coal.

Sir Ahmadu Bello, Premier of the Northern Region developed the North with groundnuts.

Many countries in Europe have set 2030, which is less than nine years away, as the time for the total phasing out of fossil fuel-run vehicles in favour of electric cars. Imperial College has scrapped its famous Masters in Petroleum Engineering in response to this new global reality.

This newspaper is disturbed at the way Nigerian leaders still scream their voices hoarse on the relevance on earnings from unrefined natural resources rather than challenge themselves in building knowledge-driven economies, as well as, refining the natural resources to add value, thus establish true long lasting wealth, creating a society that can sustain itself for generation.

Nigeria desperately needs digitally compliant and visionary leaders that can effectively steer the ship of state in these highly troubled times. Singapore, a tiny country leapfrogged from a Third to a First World country because of the massive investment in education by the Lee Kuan Yew-led leadership.

Wealth has long shifted from the abundance of natural resources to human capital development.
We need to invest in human capital as well as maximize our natural resources by refining them thereby creating industrial revolution in order to navigate the transition.
The time to do so can’t be better than now. The current administration own it a duty to come up with a post crude oil plans, after all they into governance under the mantra of change. What change can be more useful to us now than economic, social, technological and scientific transformation of Nigeria.

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