April 21, 2024

Energy Transition: Nigerian Government says Africa faces existential threat due to energy poverty, demands realistic net zero plan 

Oredola Adeola

The Nigerian Government has revealed that Africa is faced with an existential threat due to the global call for net zero, insisting that Nigeria and the continent, at large, cannot plan for zero emissions by whatever target date, without a realistic plan for energy access for billions of the poor and vulnerable.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, made this known in a statement obtained by EnergyDay, on the sideline of the corporate launch of the iMAX 10 Solar Power System by d.light into the Nigerian market.

EnergyDay gathered that d.light, an energy firm, founded in 2007 by Ned Tozun a Canadian & Sam Goldman, is one of the global leaders in social transformation committed to transforming one billion lives globally, through energy access, by 2030.

The company is planning to expand its operations in the Nigerian market with over 25 million sustainable products including solar lanterns, solar home systems, TVs, radios, and smartphones after successful operations across several markets globally including India, China, and Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia.

According to Osinbajo, we cannot plan effectively for energy access without linking it with an effective emissions reduction plan.

The VP said, “While the world has experienced several global crises throughout history, from plagues to wars, to economic meltdowns, our generation is confronted with perhaps its worst crisis yet – climate change.

“But for developing countries, such as ours, it is a twin problem; the climate crisis and a poverty crisis, an important cause, and consequence of the poverty crisis is energy poverty or lack of access to energy for millions.

“What do all these mean in countries such as ours with large numbers of poor and vulnerable people, a great part of whose poverty is a result of a lack of access to energy?

“That demographic uses kerosene, firewood, and charcoal for domestic purposes– cooking and lighting. Apart from deforestation caused by the use of firewood, indoor pollution results in hundreds of thousands of deaths annually from the use of kerosene for cooking.

“Fire hazards from Kerosene lanterns and cookstoves are also rampant. Our ingenuity, creativity, and compassion will be needed to resolve these existential crises of our times.

“As we cannot plan for zero emissions by whatever target date, without a realistic plan for energy access for billions of the poor and vulnerable, it is that we cannot plan effectively for energy access without linking it with an effective emissions reduction plan.

Osinbajo warned that If energy access issues are left unaddressed in the Nigerian and African continent, Africa will continue to see growing energy demand being addressed with high polluting and deforesting fuels.

He said, “In addressing this issue, the Federal government developed a robust renewable energy programme, the Nigeria Electrification Project, a World Bank and Africa Development Bank funded program implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA). This has been the Federal Government’s flagship vehicle for promoting energy access using off-grid decentralised renewable energy solutions.

“The Nigeria Electrification Project aims to deploy off-grid renewable energy systems including Solar Home Systems in sparsely populated rural locations, and solar hybrid mini-grids in densely populated unserved or under-served locations with economic activities and solar hybrid captive power plants for federal universities and affiliated teaching hospitals.

“Since its inception in 2018, the project has impacted the lives of over 3.7 million Nigerians through the 65 mini-grids and 770,000 Solar Home Systems, representing an aggregate of about 30MW of off-grid renewable energy systems thus far deployed.

“The Solar Home Systems component of the Nigeria Electrification Project is the best performing by all indicators. Solar Home Systems are quick and easy to deploy and are effective for electrifying individual users, especially those that are resident in sparsely populated locations far from the reach of the national grid.

“These small and modular systems help in no small way in resolving the twin problems of energy poverty and emissions, as they provide energy access using clean renewable technologies.

Professor Osinbajo however noted that aggregation of little interventions within the green energy landscape is one of the measures required to create effective solutions to the complex existential dilemmas that Africa faces.

The VP however commended d.light systems for initiating programmes, which represented important components, in the fight against climate change and the race to achieve energy access for millions safely and with zero carbon emissions.

He acknowledged that d.light systems represent over 74,000 of them, and have impacted over 350,000 Nigerians in unserved and under-served rural locations, out of the 770,000 Solar Home Systems deployed under the Nigeria Electrification Project.

He confirmed that lack of access to energy is a Base- of-the-Pyramid (BOP) problem and requires social enterprises like d.light, to make a tangible impact on the quality of life of their vulnerable customers.

He urged the d.light team to keep developing the technology, products, and business models that contribute to achieving this national and global goal.

Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairperson of the company’s board, speaking at the official country launch of the firm, the need to transform lives as the driving force of the d.light initiative.

According to her, “the bottom line is that Nigeria does not have enough power generated as of now. And even if we have it, we do not have an extensive distribution network to take power to the last man. We are in Nigeria to transform Africa one community at a time.”

Sam Goldman, co-founder, and president in his opening address at the launch said, “The reality is that we are still so far from where we need to be in terms of our population and their needs.

“Hence our target market is the low-income individuals; not just the rural communities which is why the company adopts the ‘pay-as-you-go’ model. Access to sustainable energy will not be possible unless we solve the funding problem.

Ned Tozun, co-founder and CEO, in his address stated that d.light has provided employment for over 6,000 people across Africa.

“Our target is lower-income individuals. There is the sun in the village and the cities, so when we just say a rural market, it is not. The guy who lives in Lagos, but doesn’t have a generator shouldn’t even use a generator if he can have a solar solution. Why? Because of environmental sustainability.

“So, when you think about all the ESG matters, you will encourage more people to use alternate sources of energy rather than polluting sources of energy and that helps everywhere; whether you are in the city or in the village. It is about lower income.

“What we’ve done is to think of the entire problem chain. Firstly, innovate the product. Two, how do you deliver it? Deliver it to them at the most reasonable price. Thirdly, make sure it’s affordable for them. How is it affordable? It is pay-as-you-go. They don’t have to look for the capital to buy.

“They look for signing-up, proving they have the ability to be able to pay every week – they have a different system: every week, every month, every day – are different options that are available and as you increase your credibility ratio in terms of your performance, you then have opportunity to get into more,” Ned said.