The idea that Nigeria households should begin to enjoy uninterrupted power supply has been at the centre of a discourse between Nigeria and some developed countries. Olaleye Akintola writes on a series of discussions at Energy Platform, a public–private dialogue forum on renewable energy, energy efficiency and rural electrification for the country
Defying the hazy weather, delegates arrived at a plush venue in Lagos. The background was humming with life, as the emcee rapturously welcomed the delegation. At the snap of a finger, the rustle of music plummeted down. The mood became deliberative as the high point of the agenda percolated. Discussions on how to solve Nigeria’s power problems ensued.
The energy platform, a public –private dialogue forum on renewable energy, energy efficiency and rural electrification, is a collaborative effort between some developed countries and Nigeria , tailored towards gathering key stakeholders in the national and international public sectors, to deliberate on proffering workable solutions to help catalyse market developments on renewable energy and energy efficiency and rural electrification.
The event attracted representatives from Nigeria and international energy companies, delegates from the European Union member states, cooperation agencies and development banks.
In his opening address at the platform launch, the German Consul General in Lagos, Mr. Michael Derus stated that the Nigerian German Energy Partnership (NGEP), established in 2008 and renewed in 2013, is a sound basis for cooperation in the field of energy generation and distribution.
Derus said: “German companies are globally known for their innovative approach regarding sustainable solutions. Together with the energy and environment desk of the delegation of German industry and commerce in Lagos, the German Consulate General has organised a series of four seminars addressing the issues of embedded energy, energy efficiency and biogas. As regards the issue of embedded energy, the specific aspects of vocational training and of feeding locally generated energy into the grid with the participation of the private sector, found much attention among the Nigerian experts”.
However, at a recent biogas summit, organised by the German Consulate in Lagos, Michael Derus, Consul General , German consulate, Lagos had earlier expressed the willingness of the German government to share their own success experience in biomass technology with Nigeria, if given a chance.
At the summit, he said: “In the biogas field, Germany has a long- standing experience. We have experts here on ground that is willing to share with interested organisations or individuals from their wide repertoire, spanning for over 45 years. The already existing use of biogas technology in Germany should serve as an incentive for Nigeria, to solve the problem of local energy shortages in the country. I think Nigeria is multifaceted with different regions and needs. We are making recommendations with presenting solutions. Nigerian experts that we have here, with whom we are debating at high levels, I would say unequivocally that many of the solutions we are proposing are somewhere already in place, at a smaller scale. I think Nigeria will decide which part of the energy mix best suit their situations. Like a successful coach in an athletic game, ours is to train and make recommendations, but the athlete has to do the running. We have succeeded in providing multiple options for energy renewal through our various summits, the onus to decide rest on the shoulder of Nigerian government and other stakeholders”.
While delivering a keynote address at the launch of the energy platform, the Consul General of Denmark in Nigeria, Per Christensen, stated that Denmark is open for support to Nigeria and is looking for cooperation opportunities and is happy to contribute to the public-private dialogue, with the aim of bringing renewable energy investments into Nigeria. He explained that Denmark is well known for its wind power industry, but technologies within biogas and solar are also competitive. He noted that in spite of the geographical location, no less than 90.607 solar systems- all privately owned, are connected to the grid and contributes 592 megawatts. “30% of Denmark’s energy consumption is covered by renewable, today. He said.
The Danish diplomat also expressed optimism on the proposed synergy between Nigeria and Denmark in the energy sector. He said: “I believe diversifying into renewable energy will be a great option for Nigeria. We are working bilaterally with many African countries in the field of energy. Nigeria is a dynamic country with giant economic potentials. Many energy resources are at the disposal of Nigeria. There is the sun and wind, which can be tapped into, to increase energy supply. I think at this time, we really need to look inwards.
In a chat with THISDAY, the head of Energy and Environment desk, Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria, Barbel Freyer, explained that the energy platform has been jointly conceived by the Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP) and the Delegation OF German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria (DGIC) in close collaboration with the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (REEEP).
Freyer also explained that the host of the programme, the DGIC is a key player in supporting industrial engagement in renewable energy and environmental issues. She said: “This energy platform will serve as a dialogue forum, regularly gathering key stakeholders from related sectors. Until the end of 2016, four events will be organized every year with a focus on key business interests such as regulatory aspects, investments climate and skills development. In facilitating knowledge exchange and dialogue, the platform will also contribute to create local business and employment opportunities through networking.”
Head of Unit, Rural Electrification, Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP), Jannik Mollerin in his speech, observed that the partnership between EU, Germany and USA has huge potential for commerce and integration for collaborating countries.
He said: “The synergy is huge with full potentials. I would say the technology is there. From the wind technology from Denmark, the solar technology from Germany and hydro power from Norway and other countries, they have a lot of expertise on ground. If you look at Nigeria today, they have a vision that in 2020, 75% of the country would be electrified, but if you look at the situation at hand, you will start to imagine how this can be achieved. So they need a lot of support to achieve such goal. Nigerian electricity needs to develop very fast.
“The renewable option has a huge advantage because it doesn’t need fossil fuel, though it may be quite expensive to set it up at first, but it saves money in the long run .The other issue with global warming for example is aggravated by the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide. This has negative effect on Nigeria. The climate becomes extremely heated and it affects agricultural production. You have a lot of potential also in the North, concerning solar energy. With the involvement of private participation in the Nigerian power sector, we are optimistic that this will open up important issues that may lie to rest, the countries power failure snag”.
As participants and stakeholders continued with the long deliberations, Mollerin was quick to spot some grey areas that need the attention of government and stakeholders at the edge of achieving stable electricity in the country.
“This platform will help professionals to gain knowledge and expand their business. It’s true that Nigeria is eager to have stable electricity implemented, but the framework isn’t there. The framework for renewable
energy for instance, is not here. If you invest money, you don’t know if you will recoup your investment back. No investor will like to do a blind business. The off grid renewable energy regulation is being discussed here. From what I have observed, there isn’t regulation in Nigeria. There is no regulation to protect your investment. Investors want security for their investment otherwise they would draw back.
“If the framework is in place and people know what they are in for and what technical requirements are involved, safety for the people, investment and environment. As good as what professionals have shared amongst themselves may look like. It all boils down to the fact that government regulatory bodies like the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission(NERC) should hit the ground running to provide necessary framework to accommodate renewable energy. It’s about independent electricity regulators, not about politicians. The future is to take electricity from politics. Electricity is not a political instrument.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Engineering Materials Development Institute, Dr. S.O. Olusunle in his goodwill address at the occasion, challenged experts in the power sector to explore the abundance human and material resources available in the country, to prepare the grounds for the country to finally fix the power problem, it’s been grappling with. He believes that Nigerian experts in the power sector are committed and willing to establish rapport with foreign experts, in achieving the goal of improving stable distribution and supply of electric power across the country. He said: “most of what our experts need to help tackle our inefficient power supply is readily available in most grown industries like Engineering Materials Development Institute (EMDI) that provides research and human resources. I think it’s time our professionals looked inwards and stop running from pillar to post to get resources at distant places while they can get the best, just a click away. One of such brainwave EMDI launched is in Osun state, a mini hydro power project, waiting to be inaugurated soon.
“I think the Federal Government is showing great commitment in solving our power problem in Nigeria. By opening up the energy sector to private investors, I think this will allow for increased expertise needed in arresting the failing power situations. Experts all over the world will come and interact with our indigenous professionals in the power sector. This will in turn allow us take a cue from their successful experience in providing stable power sector in their respective countries. This energy platform is a good seed that have been planted; I staunchly believe it will yield good dividends, with time. We need to give this initiative a chance to succeed. He quipped.
For Engineer Marcus Spam, who came all the way from Jos to contribute to the energy platform launch, he told THISDAY that Nigerian investors are lazy in the aspect of discovering great potentials Nigeria is blessed with, making the country’s recovery from unstable power supply tardy.
“We seem not to know what is available around us, we don’t seem to feel or hear anything. Someone has to come and unveil our unhidden potentials for us. Take the sun for instance. All over Nigeria, from Maiduguri to Lagos, the sun shines most of the day, most of us have never thought of what we can use the light to do. It is the whites that left their country to come and tell us what we can do with it. Most of the solar projects in the country, lights and boreholes, are not properly executed, owing to the fact that most of those contracts are sold to those that can afford it, not to professionals who can handle them efficiently. If solar is working in other countries that cannot even boast of average sunshine like Nigeria. What then is happening to us? The wind energy, like you have in Denmark is still untapped in Nigeria. We have the tide in most of our beaches, like bar-beach in Victoria Island. I thank the EU, Germany and US for this timely initiative. I hope the technological manpower will be brought into our country by foreign experts, to help boost power supply in the country.”