By David Iorja (ABUJA)
Nigeria has a crucial and strategic role to play in the transition to a more sustainable energy future for the continent and the rest of the world, even as Africa would need rapid industrialization to get millions of its people out of poverty.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, expressed these views in his remarks on Tuesday where he formally opened the exhibition of the Nigeria International Energy Summit, holding in Abuja.
Speaking on the theme of this year’s summit, Global Perspectives for a Sustainable Future, the Vice President underscored the significance of the theme for the socio-economic future of Nigeria, Africa and the world.
Drawing lessons from the work done in the last couple of years by the Federal Government’s Energy Transition working group, which he chairs, Prof. Osinbajo noted that “in that capacity and working with a strong inter-ministerial team and several energy sector players, it has become increasingly clear to me that Nigeria has a crucial and strategic role in delivering the sustainable energy future that Africa and indeed the world must have in the next few years.
“Second is that it is the key sector actors such as are gathered in this room who must do a lot of the heavy lifting to get us there. The truth is, no other sector of our economy is as crucial in the transition to a more sustainable future.”
The Vice President, who restated his view on Africa becoming the first truly green civilization in the world, noted that “the future is not in Africa as a victim, it is in our nation and our continent driving the next stage of global economic progress by becoming the first truly green civilization in the world.”
Continuing, he stated “the truth is, no other sector of our economy is as crucial in the transition to a more sustainable future. But what is that future? Let me say first what it is not. It is not a future with Africa at the bottom of the food chain in the brave new world of sustainable energy.
“But we must admit that today we have the largest number of individuals without access to power, the largest number without access to clean cooking options; we need rapid industrialisation to get millions of our people out of poverty, and we must do all without worsening global warming.”
As the VP noted, “the future is not in Africa as a victim, it is in our nation and our continent driving the next stage of global economic progress by becoming the first truly green civilization in the world.”
Highlighting the pathway forward for Africa in the transition to a sustainable energy future, the VP noted that Africa can only become the first truly green civilization “by recognizing the opportunity early and intentionally developing all the potential around our natural resources including natural gas, solar and biofuels.”
He further urged that “we must in particular leverage on our renewable energy potential, work actively on green technologies, carbon removal and green manufacturing. And we have a young resourceful workforce too. And quite frankly, it is the energy sector working with the government that can muster the human and material resources to move the needle.”
Furthermore, Prof. Osinbajo stated that Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan was “a bold and innovative move that calls for the ramping up of solar deployment to about 5.3 gigawatts per year until 2060.”
The VP added that this also includes “the production of over 6 billion litres of biofuels annually to make green the transport sector on the path to e-mobility and the transition of at least 2 million Nigerian households to cleaner cooking fuels like Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and electricity every year.”
He highlighted the opportunities of initiatives around Carbon Trading, noting that “this holds important opportunities for our oil and gas sector.”
According to him “I have in the past year been working with a dedicated international committee named the African Carbon Market Initiative. The point is to open up the tremendous carbon trading opportunities in Africa. We are also simultaneously working on the Nigeria Carbon Market.
He referred to the recent initiative between the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and Vitol, a private firm, which is the CarbonVista joint venture and observed that the fund “would invest in carbon emission reduction projects in Nigeria and promote the Nigerian carbon market initiative.”
While acknowledging that there was still a long way to go, the Vice President emphasized that Nigeria can achieve its sustainable energy goals.
“We have a long way to go, but we are well able to achieve all we have set for ourselves. For me, I think the private sector must also clearly articulate its own sustainable energy ambitions in alignment with our transition plan. Let us act quickly,” he stated.