By Michael Eboh & Jennifer Gideon
The Federal Government, yesterday, disclosed that it has began moving the economy away from dependence on commodities, stating that over the years, the country’s dependence on agricultural commodities and petroleum had not made much impact on the economy.
Speaking in Abuja, Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, stated that the government was transiting the economy from dependence on commodities to a knowledge-driven economy.
Onu stated this in Abuja, during a two-day national workshop on renewable energy roadmap for Nigeria and lessons learned on deploying biomass based mini-grid systems, organised by the Energy Commission of Nigeria, ECN, in collaboration with International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO.
He, however, stated that to fully achieve this transition, the country would be depending heavily on energy to drive industrialization.
He said, “We are moving our economy away from depending entirely on commodities. Just because we have abundance of natural resources, we try in the past, to allow our economy to depend on commodities; first, agricultural products and later petroleum. But we have seen that that is not the way to go.
“We are in a transition, moving our economy away from depending entirely on commodities, to now depend on knowledge, which is innovation-driven. There is no way we can build a knowledge society without energy. It is not possible. The energy demands of the nation would even increase, far more than what it was before.
“As we industrialise, we will be building new factories, so many things would be happening. Our transportation sector would be strong enough to help us transport raw materials from one part of the country to another, as well as finished goods. All these would require a lot of energy.”
Onu further stated that the Federal Government was working hard to implement the newly-approved Methanol Policy, especially as it aims to deploy methanol as fuel for transportation, electricity generation, cooking and as feedstock for manufacturing.
He said, “The methanol policy was approved by FEC about three months ago and we are working very hard to implement this policy. Once we do so, we will now take our natural gas which contains about 85 per cent methane and convert that natural gas to methanol.
“The methanol, we would use in both the transportation sector by blending it with PMS. It is more environmentally friendly and cheaper. We would also use it in generating electricity both in our homes and also in our power plants. We would use it in our factories as a feedstock for manufacturing so many chemicals.
“Above all, our women would be able to use methanol to replace kerosene, firewood and charcoal for cooking. This is because it is cheaper than kerosene; it is also cleaner, healthier and safer. By this we would ultimately reduce and bring an end to gas flaring, and also preserve our forest.”
Also speaking, Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the ECN, Professor Eli Bala, listed the drivers of adoption of renewable energy in Nigeria to include availability of renewable resources; principles of diversification of energy mix, environmental factors, social factors; and international cooperation and diplomacy.
He noted that as Nigeria begins to adopt renewable energy usage, there would be social, economic and environmental consequences, stating, however, that the partnership with the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, would mitigate the negative impact of the adoption process.