The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Friday urged the Federal Government to explore renewable energy by utilising the country’s untapped energy sources, estimated at 93,950MW.
Mr Bakary Dosso, the ECA Chief Sub-Regional officer, Data Centre, made the appeal at the launch of the ECA Country Profile 2016 Report for Nigeria in Abuja.
Dosso said the ECA report showed that Nigeria was blessed with abundant untapped energy resources of about 93,950 Megawatts (MW).
He added that “the country is home to enormous energy resources such as petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear power and tar sands.
“Other resources include solar, wind, biomass and hydropower.
“However, development and exploitation of energy sources has been skewed in favour of hydropower, petroleum and natural gas.
“Nigeria has an untapped potential to produce 93,950MW from carbon-emission-free energy sources, which include small and large hydroelectric power plants, 68 per cent and nuclear power, 21 per cent.
“Also, Nigeria has an untapped potential of seven per cent solar and photovoltaic and onshore wind, two per cent,” he said.
Dosso said in spite of such potential, it was sad that half of the population depended on wood, charcoal, manure and crop residues for energy.
He added that Nigeria had a total installed electricity capacity of 12,522MW and an available current capacity of only about 4,500MW.
He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to seize the opportunities to improve the power situation in the country.
He explained that the country’s energy challenges, especially electricity generation, transmission and distribution were impacting negatively on the economy.
“The lack of reliable access to electricity remains a major obstacle to creating a much stronger and more diverse economy and improving the living standards of the population.
“It is therefore crucial to scale up both private and public investment in the electricity sector.
“For that to happen, the authorities must attract private investment by establishing a clear regulatory framework and aligning their policies so that the infrastructure for generating and transporting electricity can be developed efficiently,” he said.
The Director, ECA Sub-Regional office for West Africa, Prof. Dimitri Sanya, said that accelerating economic transformation in Nigeria required boosting competitiveness and strengthening local production capacities.
“To this end, Nigeria should reinforce its effort to establish a market-oriented policy aimed at promoting a secure, competitive and reliable energy supply and policies that encourages equipment and technology acquisition.
“A clear regulatory framework needs to be established to attract private investment, to keep investing in grid expansion while ensuring routine maintenance.
“The country should further invest in a diversified mix of energy sources through incentive policies in favour of non-fossil energy sources including solar, wind and hydropower.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, said Nigeria recognised the impact stable power would have on the economy.
Udoma, represented by the Ministry’s Director of Economic Growth, Mr Kayode Obasa, said in recognition of this, the Economic Recovery and Growth programme contained critical power projects.
“If you look at the 2017 budget as presented by the Nigerian government, one key area that has been stressed is the power sector. About 50 per cent of the capital expenditure this year is devoted to the power sector.
“We are aware that a lot still needs to be done in the power sector, because once power is addressed, virtually all areas of the economy will be positively affected,” he said.
Udoma reiterated the government’s commitment to diversify its revenue stream away from oil, so as to have more revenue to address critical infrastructure problems.
He said government was presently carrying out many reforms to improve ease of doing business in the country to attract necessary foreign direct investments in critical sectors of the economy, including power.