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Don’t block financing for gas investments yet, Osinbajo insists in dialogue with EU

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Don't stop funding, gas investments still key to our economy, Osinbajo tells EU
Professor Yemi Osinbajo

Says ‘our commitment to energy transition firm’

Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo has on Tuesday told the European Union not to stop gas funding investment, which he described as “key” to the Nigerian economy.

Professor Osinbajo made the submissions Tuesday during a meeting with a delegation of the European Union (EU) led by its Executive Vice President, Mr Valdis Dombrovskis, maintaining the advocacy that the international community should preserve financing for gas projects in Nigeria and other developing countries, during the transition to net-zero emission.

Discussions at the meeting held virtually focused on bilateral investment agreements between Nigeria and the EU cutting across diverse areas including technology, intellectual property rights, research and innovation, humanitarian assistance, energy access, and renewable energy.

Osinbajo said “a point which I think we can talk about is the sort of support that we hope to get from the EU especially with respect to ensuring that we meet our commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Our commitment to energy transition is firm, and we think that for us, it is an area of comparative advantage. So, we are hoping to leverage that. I think that we will again be very happy to work on improving the investment environment to ensure that we are able to work as much as possible with the EU partners.”

Emphasizing the need to leverage opportunities to build a stronger partnership with the EU in the gas sector, the Vice President said Nigeria will explore the caveat in the EU green energy financing instrument to seek better ways of financing for gas projects in the country.

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He said: “What we see is a growing trend among development financial institutions to withdraw from fossil fuel investment and recently, the World Bank’s decision to cease funding for upstream oil and gas development. The new restrictions on financing downstream developments appear to be considered by some countries in the West.

“We believe that well-intended as some of these actions may be, it is clear to us that they would disregard the importance of gas as a means of urgently addressing energy poverty for us and countries such as ours.”

Professor Osinbajo recently has been raising the issue of financing gas projects in Nigeria and other developing countries, advocating for more effective engagements since the campaign for the Net-Zero Emission by 2050 resumed.

At a meeting with the British Member of Parliament and COP26 President-Designate, Mr. Alok Sharma, last month, Prof Osinbajo restated Nigeria’s support and commitment to the Climate Change agreement but cited the planned restrictions on financing of gas projects in African countries as a potential setback.

Also at the UN Dialogue on Food Systems in February, the Vice President stressed the need for the international community to consider as an option, the use of gas and other more environmentally friendly fuel sources as against what he termed “defunding gas projects” on the basis of gas not being environmentally friendly enough.

The Vice President also referred to the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) a Federal Government’s initiative to address one of the fallouts of climate change, promote sedentary livestock farming and address clashes between herders and farmers.

On his part, the Executive Vice President of the EU Commission, Mr Valdis Dombrovskis spoke on the importance of reviewing investment agreements between Nigeria and the EU, disclosing the commission’s plan to increase its external investment capacities.

On the Vice President’s call for sustained financing of gas investments in the country and beyond, the EU chief said the decision to phase out investments in fossil fuels was in line with the organization’s policy on promoting green energy initiatives.

He however urged authorities in the country to explore the caveat in the financing instruments to seek other ways of attracting investments for projects in the gas sector.

Officials present at the meeting include the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffery Onyeama; Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Amb. Ketil Karlsen; and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Mrs Yewande Sadiku, among others.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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