July 13, 2024

Right policies, strategies may drive returns from renewable devt in Nigeria, others

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•Says gas remains foremost for transition fuel

General Manager, FrazEnergy Ltd (A subsidiary of Oilserv Group), Mr. Osi Okonkwo, yesterday made a case for more investment and specific policies and strategies to drive development of renewable energy resources, which can be fused . This, according to him, can contribute to economic diversification of Nigeria and other African countries.

Okonkwo made this known at a Panel Discussion on ‘Driving Economic Transformation in Global Africa: The Role of Emerging AfriCaribbean Giants’, at the ongoing 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM2024) in Nassau, Bahamas.

According to him, with regards to the country’s energy transition fuel, renewable energy storyline if done properly should bring about a cleaner, healthier, more financially prosperous Africa and with lots of jobs.

He said it would require going further down into the value chain, and not just pushing our energy and commodity off the continent.

He said that some strategies could be put in place to enable renewable energy to go much further down the value chain.

“There is a need to delve into the actual production of solar panels, inverters and batteries, on the continent. There is so much more that can be done. But, to do this, when you talk about strategy, a few things need to be done.”

Citing China which just launched a five Giga watts solar farm, he said that the five GW capacity was about all of the power connected at the moment in Nigeria, saying “So, when you think about the Chinese story, and trying to use that as a template, a few things we have to do.

“There is a need to lean into the transition fuels, gas first and foremost, then facility, use that as a transition fuel, for cleaner future.”

Coming into the renewable space, he noted that there is also a need to go a little bit deeper and depend more on the more consistent replenishable versions of renewable, “So, we have to think of hydro dams, geothermal where it is applicable.

“Lean into that first and foremost, because the run off the run-off-the-mill solar farms and wind are more inconsistent.’’

With regards to policy, Okonkwo said they should be fewer but clear, allowing for meritocracy of access to resources, and funding among others.

He also said that the platter of policies should not get to a point where they would interfere and impede private sector ventures, adding that the private sector had a key role to play when it comes to strengthening African Caribbean economies.

On his part, Mr Jean Louis-Ekra, former President of Afreximbank, said that it was necessary to change the structures of our economies from an exporting base.

He said basic infrastructure needed to be in place as many countries still lacked power.

“And, you cannot do much transformation without power. We need to take advantage of Afcfta, the issues of moving money among others. Once we have dealt with some of the basics, then we can move forward and very quickly, to exporting among ourselves and take advantage of opportunities in the Caribbean’’

On financial and institutional measures that could be implemented for change in terms of economic diversification in Africa, when it comes to finance, he said that Africans had not done enough to use their financial resources.

“We need to generate resources before we talk about financing. I believe we have not harnessed enough of our resources in our continent, to make it available to financial institutions so they can finance the change.’’

However, Dr. Kingsley Mordi, Director, Bono Energy, restated the importance of putting basic infrastructure in place, highlighting that energy remained one of the critical things to put in place.

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