By Gabriel Enogholase
Executive Director of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Dr. Godwin Uyi – Ojo has called for the diversification of national energy sources to encourage state and non-state actors, including NGOs and energy cooperatives, to develop mini-grid and off-grid solar energy systems.
Dr Uyi-Ojo, who made the call in Benin weekend while speaking at a stakeholders forum with the theme ” Post Petroleum Economy for Nigeria”, said that this will promote greater energy access by all Nigerians and put an end to fossil fuel development and show commitment for renewable energy options that could grow to become the renewable energy hub for West Africa.
He called for a halt on investments in oil and gas sector saying that such public funds, loans and subsidies from oil and gas sector should be channeled to renewable energy sector.
He said, “In particular, Nigeria’s Green Bond, and the Bank of Industry should support and step up investments to individuals and Community Energy Cooperatives in the renewable energy sector.
“Encourage the renewable energy sector through subsidies, grants, and tax holidays including elimination or reduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from the current level of 7.5% as a crucial step to encouraging the transition.
“Demonstrate political will and reduce corruption for renewable energy to thrive in Nigeria.
“Inclusion of renewable energy technologies and climate change in the school curriculum to empower the youths and make them solutions to the national energy poverty”.
He also called on the Civil Society Groups to increase advocacy and policy engagement with the government to embrace renewable energy and take action to put an end to oil and gas development.
Nigeria government, he said should encourage a national renewable energy policy that recognizes state and non-state actors in a decentralized energy production system as crucial for realizing the country’s existing huge gaps in citizens’ access to electricity.
“We also demand federal, state and local governments’ involvement in the provision of mini-grids and off-grids solar systems and other renewable energy options.
“Conduct practical demonstrations and cluster community energy projects in the communities to promote access to cleaner energies communities as well as setting up community energy cooperatives in communities and raise awareness on renewable energy options.
“Take advantage of the decentralised energy system production and supply by investment and control in renewable energy systems in collaboration with NGOs”, he said.
Speaking on some of the challenges and way forward, Uyi-Ojo said “some challenges are facing the transition to renewable energy solutions.
“This is why action is needed on the part of the government, civil society and the communities to make the transition possible. For example, government intervention through subsidies, grants, and tax holidays are crucial steps to achieving the transition.
” Apart from dealing with the problem of political will and corruption in government establishments, Nigeria’s Bank of Industry should step up support and investments in the renewable energy sector.
“The lack of a timely shift to renewable energy sources development in Nigeria means that the country is being left behind in the new global energy transition.
“The country may pay a huge price of becoming a dumping ground for cleaner technologies and products. Nigeria can quickly become the renewable energy hub of West Africa if it makes the right investment on human capital development with our youths at the driving seat of sustainable development and in the generation of green jobs that are far more rewarding with high employment absorption than oil and gas” he declared.
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