Energy plays the most vital role in economic growth, progress and development as well as poverty eradication and security of any nation. Uninterrupted energy supply is a vital issue for all countries today. Future economic growth crucially depends on the long-term availability of energy from sources that are affordable, accessible, and environmentally friendly.
Security, climate change and public health are closely interrelated with energy. Energy is an important factor in all the sectors of any country’s economy. The standard of living of a given country can be directly related to the per capita energy consumption. The recent world’s energy crisis is due to two reasons: the rapid population growth and the increase in the living standard of whole societies.
As the population increases, a huge demand is placed on energy to carter for the needs of the people. Speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day experts’ peer review/work group meeting for the rapid assessment and GAP analysis of the National Energy Policy, NEP (Sustainable Energy Bill) convened by the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) in Abuja, the director-general of ECN, Prof. Eli Bala said at the current population of over 190 million people, statistics had revealed that no fewer than 20 million houses across the country were yet to have electricity supply.
He said the decision to gather experts in the energy sector was to proffer a way out of power challenges facing the country to ensure sustainable energy supply to the citizenry and further contribute to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the current administration.
Giving the rationale behind the review, the ECN boss explained that the first edition of the NEP approved in 2003 was reviewed for the first time in 2013 after 10 years, saying the draft produced, however, had not gotten the approval of the Federal Executive Council hence the need to review it again before presentation.
“You would agree with me that six to seven years after the NEP was reviewed in 2013, changes have taken place in the national and international energy scenes necessitating another review. For instance, the whole world is giving greater focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation through sustainable energy development with emphasis on the exploitation of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency and conservation best practices.
“The electricity sector has achieved a significant level of liberalization and privatization, with enormous lessons being learnt; the seven big wins have been put in place to revolutionalize the petroleum sector; the Paris agreement, energy transition and sustainable development goals getting global attention; the 3 Ds of dicarbonation, digitalization and decentralization of energy systems, etc are on the global energy scene,” he said.
The national energy policy serves as an umbrella policy that gives government’s overall energy policy direction, drawn from all energy sub-sectoral policies, amongst others. The objectives of the NEP are to ensure the development of the nation’s energy resources, with diversified energy resources option, for the achievement of national energy security and an efficient energy delivery system with an optimal energy resource mix to guarantee increased contribution of energy productive activities to national income.
Others include to guarantee adequate, reliable and sustainable supply of energy at appropriate costs and in an environmentally friendly manner, to the various sectors of the economy, for national development; to guarantee an efficient and cost effective consumption pattern of energy resources; to accelerate the process of acquisition and diffusion of technology and managerial expertise in the energy sector and indigenous participation in energy sector industries, for stability and self-reliance amongst others.
Highlighting the overall objective of the review is to get the energy policy supportive and to bring it up to speed with government’s economic and social policies as well as international best practices, Bala said, pointing out that the participants would identify any obsolete policy statements, objectives and strategies in the NEP document; and make appropriate recommendations; make recommendations on new policy statements, objectives and strategies; update data and information in the NEP document; ensure that the NEP is gender sensitive; and make any comments and/or suggestions that would enrich the review.
In his remarks at the workshop, the managing director of the International Centre for Energy Environment and Development (ICEED), Mr Ewa Eleri decried the non-existence of energy laws in the country. He urged the incoming 9th National Assembly to prioritise the passage of the sustainable energy bill into law.
“The time has come for a paradigm shift between energy development and the environment as sustainable energy is a catalyst for growth,” he added.
Similarly, the president, Nigeria Hydropower Professional Association (NHPA), Engr. Imo Ekpo pointed out that Nigeria is rising in population and the demands for energy is also rising, not only on social but also economic issues, and the lack of energy would affect generally the economy of the country.
“So, the essence of this workshop is to look at where we are now and where we want to be in the next 10 to 20 years. So, the essential thing is to be able to get the energy gap between where we are now and where we want to be so that we can also be one of the industrialized nations in the future.
“The takeaway essentially is that various stakeholders in sector were brought in to make inputs in the already existing national policy on energy to help us to retool what we have already. At the end of the day we expect the Energy Commission of Nigeria which is mandated for this work to put everything together and make it a working document for the country so that policy decisions are now available for political decisions to be made which can translate into the improvement of the life of the citizens,” he added.
Authored By: Nkechi Isaac