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…seeks citizen participation in renewable energy

…NAPTIN has trained 100 Nigerians in the area of solar installations—DG

By Ezra Ukanwa, Abuja.

The National Coordinator, Africa Coalition for Sustainable Energy Access, ACSEA, Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, Tuesday, said that access to clean energy in the continent is limited due to energy poverty.

He stated this during an ACSEA Nigeria platform project launch and workshop on renewable energy initiatives, in Abuja.

The project with the theme “Ensuring a people-centred energy transition in Africa through robust civil society engagements”, was set up to task citizens to demand eco-friendly energy from the government.

Njamnashi said that the project was a part of an effort to reach out to the people over the over-reliance on dirty energy and its effect on the environment.

He said: “We want people to have access to clean energy because dirty energy is causing a big problem in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“In fact, many families do not have access to any form of energy, whether clean or dirty. We are campaigning for access to clean energy for two reasons. Firstly, it is the only energy system that can be decentralized and can meet the people’s demands even in isolated areas. Also, it is the only energy that has a future.

“We need to bring to the limelight, renewable energy resources in this country and should meet the needs of the people in isolated areas while keeping our environment clean. We need to mobilise communities, especially women and traditional rulers, and youths from the isolated communities to form a movement that would be asking for an energy system for our country.

“The governance around the dirty energy is dirty IN itself. If we don’t get the governance right, we can end up with energy from renewable resources whose participation or access and distribution are still laced with a dirty system. We need a holistic approach where we need people to participate in the energy decision-making process, so we can meet their needs and that of the future generations.

“Citizens’ lack of participation in decision making around the energy sector needs to change, and the system needs to be democratised. Currently, there is a policy to allow Nigerians access to thousands of houses, and access to renewable energy.

“Policy, if well executed, could be sustainable. We need to hold the government accountable to deliver on its promises. We are creating a movement of people that would be holding the government accountable. Over time we have been made to believe that the only energy that is available and cost-effective is dirty energy. That is false.

“As a people, we have to understand we have clean energy present in Nigeria. People have been made to think that renewable energy is expensive, if you remove the subsidy placed on dirty energy, you would see that dirty energy is more expensive not only economically but environmentally and socially. When there is oil pollution the health of the people is affected. Renewable is efficient and cost-effective”, he added.

In his part, the Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action, Dr Godwin Ojo, pointed out that the coalition aimed to address the issue of energy poverty in the country.

He said, “Everywhere you look, there is energy poverty and we think that this narrative needs to change and one way we are advocating is through this platform to put energy development parameters in the hands of citizens through, a decentralized energy system and energy democracy system that allows everyone to be part and parcel of energy development initiatives in terms of an off-grid system, stand-alone systems.

“So that the so-called energy giant or monopolies no longer control our lives and this is so sacrosanct because we must work as citizens to ensure that the beckoning energy colonialism through the dumping of renewable energy gadgets in Africa, on Nigeria, must be challenged and one way we can challenge that is to build citizens capacities on cleaner renewable technology systems in ways that we can respond to our own needs. This is one of the essences of ACSEA Nigeria platform.”

On his part, the Director-General, National Power Training Institute of Nigeria, NAPTIN, Mr Ahmed Nagode, stressed the needfulness for access to renewable energy and maintenance culture in citizens.

He said: “It is all stakeholders’ responsibility to ensure that we maintain the structure. Advocacy is good but there is also a need to emphasise the rights and civic responsibilities of citizens. That is to prevent vandalisation, and sustain the infrastructure that is very expensive and hard to come by and I think ERA and ACSEA will do a lot in this regard.”

He added that NAPTIN, in fulfilment of its mandate to build capacity in the power sector, had trained 100 Nigerians in the area of solar installations.

He said, “I think in order to get out of a lack of jobs, there is a need for skills and ERA is doing a lot in that regard. We are ready to support ERA to ensure that we provide the necessary capacity for young Nigerians to be able to ply careers in the area of renewable energy.”

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