Home > Electrical/Electronics > Nigeria Cannot Depend On Aid Forever On Renewable Energy Development – Chimaobi Nna

Nigeria Cannot Depend On Aid Forever On Renewable Energy Development – Chimaobi Nna

Engr Chimaobi Nna is a renewable energy and efficiency expert with technical, communication, analytical skills and a history of success influencing organizational growth, projects and capacity development. He was a Research Officer at Energy Commission of Nigeria, Team Lead, UNDP-GEF project and advisor on Energy Efficiency  at German Agency for International Cooperation.

Chimaobi Nna took Engineers’ Forum to the world of Renewable Energy, progress made so far in Nigeria and future prospect.

Can you share your experience in the Renewable Energy sector in the last few years. I am sure we can get an impressive learning curve from you?

 In the last three years the renewable energy sector in Nigeria has made several strides. To mention a few; the Rural Electrification Agency’s work in providing energy access to rural communities has been one of the most laudable projects. They have also embarked on several projects under the Energizing Education and Energizing Economies project where several Universities and major markets have benefited from the scheme. With the advent of the COVID-19, they have also supported greatly in powering the health and isolation Centres in strategic locations in the Country. The Private Sector has also experienced some growth as now the sector has over 100 Private Organizations/ Developers who are actively providing energy services to hundreds of thousands of Nigerians. There have also been a lot of both local and foreign partnerships and investors commitment. The last three years has also seen the solar C&I sector gaining some momentum and closing some really impressive projects. The general outlook I will say, has been encouraging. There is certainly a lot more that can be done and I am very optimistic we will get there.

The effort here has been on solar without much consideration given to other sources of energy such as wind. Why is that so?

 The advantage solar PV has over wind technology and others still remains its ease of deployment and the range of products that are readily available in the market. Solar PV systems can range from 4Wp to as large as 1MWp or more. If you also go to the open market you can get a solar Home system for as low as 3,000 naira, although this will only power a light bulb. It will be very difficult to get a relatively comparable solution for wind. The versatility of the application of solar PV, its availability, affordability, capacity range and ease of deployment makes it an easier choice.

Looking also at the resource required for both solar and wind, solar seems more reliable over the geographical spread of Nigeria when compared to wind systems. This is not to say that the Wind technology does not have its comparative advantages over solar in some cases, however wind is more suited in Nigeria for much larger applications.

READ ALSO  System Reform Or Climate Change: Why Biden Must Give Up His Bipartisan Instincts

The fastest, cheapest and most reliable way to reach the underserved is as of today in Nigeria via solar PV. Hopefully when the energy access gap is significantly reduced, we can then begin to look at how to accelerate or mainstream the other RE technologies.

What will you say about the mini grid sub sector in Nigeria in terms of progress?

The mini grid sub sector of the energy sector in Nigeria has made some significant progress in the midst of its own peculiar challenges in the last 10 years. What is most significant is that the technical capacity, funding, legal and regulatory framework and ultimately the number of connections has had a positive outlook so far. There has certainly also been a lot of lessons. Most importantly, the ecosystem needs to be more robust and collaborative, the capacity utilization needs to be more optimized and monitoring and evaluation needs to be mainstreamed into the projects entire lifecycle. Overall, it has been a great ride for the mini grid sub-sector of the energy sector in Nigeria.

Given the level of awareness and technical capacity do we stand a chance to meeting up with the SDG target?

At the moment, we seem a bit far off from the SDG targets. However, with the current happenings in the Nigerian Power Sector, including the adoption of renewable energy, the Siemens deal and the push by NERC to make the DISCOs more efficient, we hope to not be far off the target by 2030. In addition, the Sustainable Energy for all and the African Development Bank under the leadership of Nigerians and the commitment of these institutions towards energy for all and sustainable development gives a positive outlook as to how close we may be to the target by 2030. It remains to be seen if the momentum we have seen will be sustained or accelerated within the decade.

You have been involved in collaborative engagements with GIZ and SON, will you say Nigeria is ready to build a sustainable ecosystem through renewable energy?

The collaboration between GIZ and SON is a demonstration of what can be achieved when the Government MDAs and the Development Cooperation’s work together. There are a whole lot more of these collaborative engagements in the sector with relevant Government and Private Stakeholders. What I will like to add in my experience working with both parties in these collaborative engagements is that the Government MDAs must have ownership of these initiatives and build local capacities where necessary. Nigeria cannot depend on aid forever and the Sector has great minds who can gradually take on the roles. A sustainable ecosystem through renewable energy can only be driven if majority of the drivers – both individual and institutional are indigenous-centric.

READ ALSO  Britain’s Most Famous Scientist Is Convinced Cyborgs Will Soon Rule The World

Besides legal and regulatory framework what is the place of funding in the realization of set targets?

Funding is a very important factor in the successful realization of set targets. The renewable energy sector currently has funding from the World Bank under the Nigeria Electrification Project coordinated by the Rural Electrification Agency. There have also been a lot of funds by International Donor and Development Agencies like USAID, through the Nigerian Power Sector Program, the GIZ Nigerian Energy Support Program, the African Clean Energy Technical Assistance Facility and a host of others. It is evident that the sector requires more funding; however it is generally argued that the corresponding impact when compared to the amount of funding already available in the sector is yet to be seen. We hope in the coming years that the funds are more focused and the desired impacts are achieved. On the other hand, that we are able to develop innovative approaches in terms of the financial models required to scale up.

Getting appropriate statistics and information on the true state of renewable energy deployment in the country could be tasking. How do you arrive at your data to guide in your reports especially on monitoring and evaluation?

Generally, there is the perception that getting data is a herculean task in Nigeria. Gathering data anywhere in the world requires a lot of groundwork and patience. It is a fact that without data it is difficult to start a project with the right objective and also equally difficult to measure impact during and at the end of projects. The best way to get data is to either be involved in gathering it, through being a part of a project as either a direct or indirect beneficiary or Stakeholder. The Federal Bureau of Statistics is also another great source of data. However, in my own experience the easiest and most accurate way to get data is to be directly or indirectly involved in these projects.

What are the new innovations and strategies you think we need to deploy to accelerate the process?

Innovative finance models and solutions are urgently needed to accelerate development in both the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors in Nigeria. Indigenous capacity building, strengthening of technical and skills development programs and Government Institutions and a review of our Curriculum to reflect current technological advancements and trend are also very important. These are key to the economic and sustainable development of Nigeria.

Total Views: 54 ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *