About 1.5 billion people across the globe lack electricity supply, half of which live in Africa, with Nigeria accounting for 90 million of such people, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola said on Monday.
He said this while delivering a key note address at the annual international conference of the Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law (CPEEL), University of Ibadan (UI).
At the conference were participants from 20 African countries.
Speaking on the theme, “Developing Renewable Energy in Africa: The Interplay of Technology, Economics and Law”, Fashola said “Africans have trillions standard cubic feet (SCFs) of natural gas reserves, billions of barrels of crude oil reserves and billions of tonnes of coal; but Africa has even greater abundance of renewal energy resources. unfortunately, of the nearly 1.5 billion people estimated to lack electricity supply the world over, half live-in Africa. Nigeria alone is estimated to have over 90 million people living without electricity supply according to the world bank”.
He noted that to make electricity available to all Nigerians, efforts must be concentrated to develop renewable energy along with conventional power plants to maintain a balanced energy in in the short, medium and long-term.
Fashola said renewable energies were the fastest power plants that can be deployed as the technologies required are compatible with what he described as the nations decentralized, stand-alone ideal for local, rural communities.
The former Lagos State Governor who was represented by the Acting Director, Renewable and Rural Power Access Development, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Faruk Yabo, was, however, quick to add that efforts must be intensified at improving the transmission grid.
He said “The huge energy deficit and the negative environmental impact of using fossil fuel for energy generation, as well as the falling costs of renewable energy technologies like solar power, are driving the current energy transition towards renewable energy as being witnessed across the world, including here in Africa”.
On the efforts by the President Muhammadu Buharu administration to improve electricity in Nigeria, Fashola said “Federal government is implementing off-grid renewable energy solutions such as rural mini-grids, standalone home solutions, IPP for Federal Universities, Teaching Hospitals and large-scale solar PV projects such as the Jigawa solar city.
“In 2018 we are making efforts to complete and commission the following renewable energy projects: 10 MW Katsina wind farm, 30MW Gurara Hydro Power, 29MW Dadin Kowa Hydropower and 40MW Kashimbila HydroPower, 700MW Zungeru Hydro Power and the 14 Solar IPP are expected to come on stream soon”.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Dr. Gbade Ojo noted that “the good Lord has blessed us with abundant diverse natural resources that are continuously replenished continuously. But we need the policy to encourage investors in developing the technology for Africa and to also embolden financials to allocate huge funds to renewable energy development in Africa.
“The outlook of us as policymakers, researchers and investors is a strategic partnership that will result to increase in the contribution of renewable energy generation in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, in a way that will make it attractive, accessible and affordable to the general public”.
He charged the participants to “enlighten policymakers on the significant opportunities in renewable energy, which includes but not limited to energy efficiency, energy security, reduction in environmental pollution especially air pollution and improve public healthcare and one must not forget economic benefits to the users and the government”.
UI Vice Chancellor, Professor Idowu Olayinka in his remarks disclosed that the conference and the theme were very relevant and important at this critical period, given the current energy challenges.
Olainka added that the “significance is not just for the town but also for the gown as the University spends very considerable amount of money to ensure stable electricity supply that can support research, training and other activities on campus that will impact the nation and the world positively.”
He appealed to the government to revisit the pledge of a support to build a 10MW solar plant in collaboration with Germany in the UI, two years ago, noting that the project has not made any significant progress since it was launched.
He said “I will like to remind the Hon. Minister that about two years ago, the Federal Government made a pledge of support to build a 10MW Solar Plant in collaboration with the German for the University. While other universities have been included in the scheme, the University of Ibadan is yet to record any progress on the plant.
“I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the Minister and the Rural Electrification Agency to revisit the project given that the successful completion will further aid research and training activities in the University as we all work very hard to make UI the best among the rest”.
CPEEL Director, Professor Adeola Adenikiju in his welcome address said the objectives of organizing the conference, which was the third in the series was, “to bring together senior policymakers, industry experts and academics to discuss current energy issues that are relevant to the 20 countries in the Gulf of Guinea region; to address energy challenges in a multidisciplinary framework as well as to encourage the sharing of experiences among the countries in the sub-region and from other parts of the world in order to learn best practices from each other.”