Saturday 21 October 2017


The 2017 edition of the Summit of AFRICA TODAY magazine followed the excellent tradition of previous ones, where speakers knowledgeable about the subject matter enlightened participants. In 2015, the topic was EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The consensus then was that Nigeria should not sign the EPA because it is not in the interest of our country. The Nigerian government has adopted the same position as was canvassed at the summit. My blog post on the 2016 Summit can be viewed via this link - These Summits are fast becoming platforms for advising the government and people of Nigeria as regards viable options available as regards critical developmental issues.

The subject matter for the 2017 edition was 'Renewable Energy (RE) Options in a low cost and low carbon world: Which way Nigeria and Africa?' This is a timely topic in the era when citizens are frustrated with the inadequate supply of electricity in Nigeria. The country has been grappling with this issue for decades. It was high time alternative sources of generating electricity apart from the national grid were explored aggressively.

The following were some of the participants at the event:

*Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Minister for Power, Works & Housing, represented by the Minister of State, Suleiman Zarma Hassan.
*Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (KKY), Former DG UNIDO/Former UN Under Secretary-General For Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL)/Presidential Candidate of National Grand Coalition (NGC) in Sierra-Leone.
*Victor Eremosele, Fmr. GM Finance, NLNG/CEO, ME Consulting, Ltd.
*Waheed Olagunju, Executive Director, Bank of Industry
*Kunle Oyinloye, MD, Bank of Infrastructure.
*John Odeh, Former Minister of Information.
Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku, Executive Governor, Taraba State.
*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa, Independent Consultant/Conflict Transformation Expert.
*Danladi Bako, Former DG, Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
*Yuri Tsitrinbaum, CEO, Lumos Nigeria.
*Orobosa Mantu, Business Development Director, Naija Sol.
*Ivie Igbinedion, Executive Director, Naija Sol.

The Summit was declared open by the representative of the Minister for Power, Works & Housing, Suleiman Zarma Hassan, who made opening remarks about what the Federal government is doing about provision of electricity for the populace. He said 'renewable energy is also on the cards in spite of the fact that the focus has been on the provision of incremental power via the national grid. Power supply has increased from 2,069MW in 2015 to 6,911MW in 2017'.

Victor Eremosele compared hydrocarbons with renewables. His preference was for the latter. Climate change has made the seasons less predictable, while hurricane has become more vicious in the Western world. We need to reduce carbon dioxide and GHG emissions. Africa is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change because the continent depends on a climate-sensitive  natural resource base. According to Eremosele, the irony of the situation is that Africa contributes only 3.8% of the global GHG emissions, compared to China and America's 42%. The Economist says 'The sun is the world's battery package. In one, one quarter hours, the amount of sunshine could power all the world's electricity'.

Eremosele then asks: Why is Africa, and in particular Nigeria, not taking advantage of the immense amount of solar energy available? At least 30 million Nigerians are off the national grid! He emphasised the fact that Nigeria needs to go green and sustainable energy makes sense. Government can't do it alone, hence the need for Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Philanthropists have a very big role to play in the RE sector.

Dr. Kandeh Yunkella reminds us that 'Affordable and Clean Energy' is number 7 of the SDGs. He said the need for de-carbonised and green energy cannot be over-emphasised. There will be 2.2 billion Africans by 2050 and it's projected that at this rate, half the population would be without electricity! Nigeria has spent about N20b on electricity since 1999, and there's little to show for it. He then elucidated five stages of access to electricity in Africa, which could take us out of energy poverty. Yunkella envisages that with adequate planning, every Nigerian would be able to charge his/her phone, light a bulb and listen to radio in the next five years via RE. RE could liberate the populace from poverty.

Deby Palmer, Head of DFID, Abuja, talked about the international community's support for energy in Nigeria. DFID aims to end extreme poverty, and one of the ways of doing this is to support energy generation. She said 275million British Pounds has been spent in the energy sector in Nigeria in 2017. Power creates jobs, and poor people need jobs. DFID supports the Presidential Task Force on Power. DFID's Solar Nigeria project is aiding health care facilities and schools.

Odun Emesieulu, Chair Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Abuja branch, lamented the plight of manufacturers in Nigeria, due to the lack of 'high quality power' in Nigeria. He said for the past 15 years, his factory had been running on generating sets 24 hours daily because it's risky to use the unsteady power supply from the grid which could damage his sensitive machines! MAN favours clean cooking solution and the use of RE to produce effective power.

Waheed Olagunju and Kunle Oyinloye, ED Bank of Industry and MD Infrastructure Bank respectively talked about what it takes to finance RE projects. The bottom line was that because of the high risk involved and the slow/minimal return on investment, RE projects are not attractive to banks for funding. When in one of my interventions, I asked if the banks could support retirees who wanted to go into the RE business or at least acquire some type of RE option for their homes for their convenience in retirement, the answer was rather brash: 'You have your pension, and that should suffice'...Retirees seem to be an endangered species. Even their pension is not paid on schedule if it's paid at all. My take on this is that retirees deserve to live relatively comfortably in retirement, and this should include access to RE at least in their homes. Banks and other sectors of the society should show more empathy towards retirees and other 'disadvantaged' members of society. Even if you can do nothing, kind words go a long way...

For me the star of the Summit was Arc. Darius Ishaku, Governor of Taraba state because he came with slides of practical examples of the theory enumerated by other speakers. Ishaku told the audience in practical terms how he was able to re-invigorate the moribund 'Highland Tea' factory after he became Governor with only 400KW of electricity! He said Taraba state is thriving on a tripod of strides in agriculture, mining and tourism. The provision of electricity via RE has made the three sectors more viable in Taraba state. Ishaku said four other clusters are being re-awakened, since hydro-power plants no longer need waterfalls.This makes electricity generation easier since there is so much water in Taraba state.

Governor Ishaku is already working on 'Tunga II' in Maisamari, Taraba state. 'When the clusters are lit via hydro-power and other RE sources, the people are happy and they are gradually being lifted out of poverty', he said. In one of Ishaku's slides, a Taraban boasted: 'I am enjoying more light (electricity) 24/7 than anyone in Abuja!'. Gov. Ishaku's Taraba state, for me represents good practice in the generation of RE for the benefit of the citizens in Nigeria. Other governors, and indeed the Federal Government could borrow a leaf from his example.

I was particularly gladdened by the fact that two female role models for entrepreneurial youths in the renewable energy sector were singled out for recognition at the Summit. The Igbinedion sisters - Ivie Igbinedion (Executive Director, Naija Sol) and Orobosa Mantu (Business Development Director, Naija Sol) have been making giant strides in the solar energy sector with their relatively new company. Kudos to you two polite, forward looking and hardworking sisters. The sky is not your limit!

Oops! I almost forgot that the amiable publisher of 'Africa Today' magazine, Kayode Soyinka, will be 60 years old in December 2017. There was an early 'happy birthday' shout out to him at the Summit by his employees who presented him with a beautiful cake! The polished publisher blushed because he did not expect the gesture. The creme de la creme present showered encomiums on KS, as Kayode Soyinka is fondly called.

The women at the occasion showed appreciation for the Publisher, but they were viewed as 'suffocating'. They were therefore asked to leave the stage so the Publisher could have photo opportunities with the so called 'more important' male guests who included a former Minister! One of the 'important' male participants even shouted across the floor at an oblivious excited female who was on stage with the Publisher.

He said: 'Grandma, you are blocking our Minister!' Why grandma? This was simply because the female had earlier identified herself as a retiree and he assumed she was a 'grandma'. I'm sure he won't have referred to a male in similar circumstances as 'grandpa'. The downside is that the female was embarrassed and furious! Is this part of male chauvinism? Your guess is as good as mine. Women seem to wear their emotions on their skin, and I suggest they be accommodated when they are simply being 'nice'. Anyway, what do I know? Happy birthday, KS!

On the whole, the dynamic team of Africa Today has done it again - three years in a row with relevant topics from which policy briefs emanate to guide policy makers in Nigeria...

Related Links

*Outshining fossil fuel: Your guide to the revolution in solar energy
*Why AI is key to renewable energy grid resilience
*Anticipatory Regulation
*USADF-AU Nigeria On Off-Grid Energy Challenge 2020
*Improved Cooking Stoves & Environmental Health
*Greening Micro-finance Banks in Nigeria: Green finance includes loans to assist in purchasing environmentally friendly/sound products
*Eco-friendly stove promotes re-use of biodegradable waste
*Solar energy reaches historically low costs
*Solar energy in Africa: Green electricity powers pandemic response and recovery
*Universities collaborate in push for renewable energy
*Differences in carbon emission reduction between countries pursuing renewable electricity vs nuclear energy
*Countries that backed renewables over nuclear power have cut more carbon dioxide
*Solar power could be 'the new king' as global electricity demand grows
*Bio-energy with Carbon Capture & Storage
*Carbon Mineralisation 
*Innovation that directly removes carbon from the air
*Device converts heat into electricity more efficiently
*Family Business Legacies: Building a global $400m Energy Group
*Scientists create jet engine powered by only electricity 
*How do we move about in a zero carbon world?
*Clean energy innovation - Analysis
*What Nigeria's power supply really costs & how a hybrid system could work for business
*'Floatovoltaics': Lithuania tests floating solar power
*Shell plans to cut up to 9,000 jobs, 10% of its work force, in its transition to low carbon energy
*First-Ever Peace REC (P-REC) Transction drives renewable energy development in Africa
*Renewable energy's dark side    https;//
*The promising future of renewable energy
*All-girl engineer team invents solar-powered tent for the homeless
*How the fossil fuel industry funds fascism
*Elon Musk announces $100m prize for New Carbon Captive Technology
*The future of energy is sustainable, clean & green- Dr. Maryam Shehu, Company Secretary, KEDC
*Global demands for carbon offsets to combat emissions is growing - But the supply is unreliable
*With 206 projects, Jeff Bezos' Amazon is now the world's largest RE buyer

No comments: