It was an exciting, enlightening and truly eventful night, as students, officials, delegates and representatives from different sectors and industries across the world convened at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island on the 27th of June for the European Union Green Event themed ‘Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Future’.
Themed ‘Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Future’
The event was one of the European Union’s numerous efforts to promote the use of affordable and clean energy for environmental sustainability and climate change, which are all part of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
According to Karlsen, “We believe this is a very important part of solution to the lack of sustainable, safe and affordable energy in Nigeria, where there are more than 90 million people without access to electricity.
Often times, they have to power their businesses with generators, which make their cost of production higher and make them unable to compete with counterparts from other countries.”
This plan by the EU is commendable. Without doubt, Nigeria’s electricity crisis has worsened over the years and the country is in dire need of alternative sources of energy. From the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) to the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and now the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the history of power supply in the country has not been enviable.
Electricity supply in Nigeria has been abysmal. Efforts by successive governments to achieve some stability in the sector have not been successful. Nigeria has 23 power generating plants connected to the national grid with the combined capacity to generate 11,165.4 megawatts (MW) of electric power. But the country hardly generates as much as 4,000 MW daily.
For a country with a population of about 200 million, the situation is distressing, as the less than 12, 000 megawatts generated, cannot serve a third of the country’s power requirements. To meet the national power needs, the country should generate a minimum of 40,000 megawatts of electricity.
Even among other African countries, Nigeria’s power generation capacity falls far below expectation. Compared with many other countries in Africa, the situation is lamentable. For example, South Africa, with 56 million people, generates as much as 51,309 megawatts while Egypt, with about 100 million people, generates about 24, 700 megawatts.
In 2017, Nigeria was designated the second worst nation in electricity supply, as the power generation dropped to 3, 851 megawatts.
In September 2013, government took a bold step to privatize the power sector by licensing 14 power generation and distribution companies. The government had believed that the liberalisation of the power sector would significantly increase the 4,000 megawatts being generated.
Unfortunately, the situation has not changed significantly as electricity supply has remained epileptic. Assurances by the present administration that the sector would be fixed have yielded little results. All over the country, businesses have continued to collapse, with the accompanying widespread poverty. Due to the erratic power supply, the manufacturing, agricultural, and mining sectors have adversely been affected.
The Federal Government should embrace other sources of power generation. Countries like Sweden, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Scotland, Germany, Uruguay, Denmark, China and the United States are using renewable energy. In Africa, Kenya and Morocco are boosting their energy supply with renewable energy.
Early in the year, Israel broke a new record by generating unprecedented amounts of electricity from renewable energy sources.
Nigeria can embrace the model employed by Bangladesh. With nearly half of its population without access to electricity, the country introduced the solar home systems (SHS) to provide electricity to households across the country.
By May 2017, over four million households in Bangladesh had benefitted from the project. The World Bank has hailed the SHS model of Bangladesh as the fastest growing solar home system programme in the world. The Federal Government should exploit other sources of power generation such as solar, wind and coal.
The event had in attendance the Head of the European Union Delegation in Nigeria, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Nadia Cannata, the Head of Section, Economic Co-operation and Energy and a wide mix of high profile attendees, including members of the diplomatic corps – Spanish, Polish, Italian and French embassies, bank executives, players in the renewable energy industry, entrepreneurs, celebrities, and students from the University of Lagos and Yaba College of Technology.
The event, which was anchored by Classic FM’s Ifeanyi Attamah, kicked off at 7:00 pm with an insightful opening speech by Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, who spoke on the current state of electricity in Nigeria, highlighting the major challenges being faced by the state.
He stated that renewable energy is a reliable solution to Nigeria’s expanding electricity problem, as it would help provide affordable and clean energy, as well as job opportunities and development for businesses and industries. He highlighted that one of the European Union’s major goals is to ensure that by 2030, 32% of energy in the world would be renewable.
He also stated that renewable energy would be instrumental in facing the challenge of climate change, as he recalled his recent visit to Northern Nigeria, which, according to him, is a perfect representation of the effects of climate change.
He further opined that solving these challenges could be described as ‘fixing an aeroplane while flying’ as the country is still rapidly growing. He admonished the audience to actively participate in solving the issue of climate change, stating that the responsibility shouldn’t be left to the government alone, but that individuals, families and businesses must take action together.
The Ambassador highlighted a recent laudable achievement of the European Union towards environmental sustainability and development in Nigeria: the recent inauguration of solar WASH facilities in Kwi (a village outside Jos), which has helped provide clean drinking water and boost sanitation and hygiene for the inhabitants of the village.
He stated that the European Union plans to ensure that progress is made on a large scale by increasing investments in the sector, ensuring that solar panels are produced in Nigeria, hence creating job opportunities for the citizens. He encouraged guests, especially youths, to pass on the message, stating that they have the power to decide the future.