Policy Recommendation # 1: Implement the “Energy for All: Solar Power Strategy”
Policy Recommendation # 2: Eliminate Oil Subsidies
Environmentally, Nigeria has reached a critical point. As its population grows, so does its influence throughout Africa and the rest of the world. However, Nigeria is currently facing a plethora of problems and was ranked 152 out of 157 countries in the World Bank’s 2018 Human Capital Index. The government has to manage the pandemic all while dealing with anti-government protests. Thus, creating and committing to short-term climate mitigation policies fall low on the totem pole of Nigeria’s priorities. Their climate mitigation policies are not extensive relative to the other Climate Scorecard countries and are mostly just goals without any real substantive plans. However, as discussed in previous posts, the government did release a “Bouncing Back” from COVID-19 plan containing two main short-term climate mitigation policies: 1) a new solar power strategy and 2) subsidizing oil.
The name of the first policy is “Energy for All: Solar Power Strategy”. The objective of this policy is to create “…250,000 jobs in the energy sector while providing solar power to 5 million households by 2023”. They will do this by leaning on the private sector for the technology and to help finance the project. The national government will work with the state governments to find the best locations for this project. The total cost of the project is expected be around N240,000,000,000 (or $620,000,000) and is expected to take 12 months to complete.
The Energy for All policy would help Nigeria tremendously because not only does it increase the use of renewable energy, but it also increases access to a reliable energy source. In rural areas where people do not have access to clean energy resources, a lot of their energy is supplied from burning biofuels—an environmentally hazardous practice. The project’s impact will be measured by how many homes actually end up receiving solar panels. This leads us into the project’s only obstacle: the Nigerian government. They have made promises in the past to follow through on similar projects but have failed to complete them. In Nigeria’s 2017 climate plan, the government pledged to work towards installing 13,000MW of solar power in the country. However, “…there has been little progress on the development of solar power in Nigeria” (Carbon Brief). There is potential for this policy to be really effective but the government needs to follow through with it.
Another short-term policy change that would be significantly less complicated than the solar power strategy would be to remove subsidies on oil for domestic consumers. Nigeria has pledged to do this before but fell through on their commitment. It is a straightforward policy decision and takes little time to implement and Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, praised this move. According to Bloomberg, this action could save at least $2 billion a year. By increasing the price of oil, Nigerians are disincentivized to purchase and use it, which is good for the environment. However, it is essential for Nigeria to offer a clean energy alternate to fill this vacuum. Ideally, the extra money would be used towards developing renewable energies, but this is extremely unlikely in the middle of a pandemic and for the corrupt government. The biggest obstacle facing this policy is whether or not the government will keep the subsidy in place when oil prices inevitably rise again.
There is a lot of potential for Nigeria to move towards a cleaner future but it is up to the government to follow through with their promises. A lot of work needs to be done to help develop the economy and improve their ranking in the human capital index, but a great first step would be to implement these policies that will benefit the country for decades to come.
The Council for Renewable Energy (CREN), Nigeria
Bouncing Back Plan:
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Nigeria Country Manager Peter Hansen