03 December 2012, Sweetcrude, Enugu – A civil and environmental Engineer, Mr A.O Akinola, has said that sustainable energy development in Nigeria is fraught with all manners of soci-economic and political problems, with no easy or clear solutions in sight.
Akinola, an engineer with the civil and environmental engineering department of the University of Ontario, Canada, stated this at a recent Seminar in Enugu.
He identified as one of the obstacles, the Nigerian peculiar soci-demographic factor of high growing population, with majority suffering poverty and under- development in the rural areas, as well as the non transparent business practices which scare investors, thereby breeding massive youth un-employment.
Related to the above, he said, was the lack of financing and investment in energy projects; whereas “significant investment and financing are needed for energy infrastructure and facilities, to sustain increased economic growth and improve the low living cönditions of the population”
Another formidable factor, according to Akinola, is the lack of political will and interest to move forward, which is reason why institutions are weak; there is high rate of corruption and bad governance, giving rise to the weak participation of the private sector in the energy field; and the unsettled needs of the local communities greeted with unrest, restiveness and distruptive activities in some areas.
The expert identified more obstacles to include such energy related issues as:lack of adequate energy infrastructure; weak energy integration; inefficiencies along the energy chain; weak local content in the oil and gas chain, which, accordingto him, ” is gauged by the amount of goods and services produced locally, without compromising quality, health, safety and environmental standardards”; and huge volume of gas flaring in the oil producing industries.
He maintained that gas flaring, for instance, results to loss of huge business opportunities, besides contibuting to the polluting of the environment, which cause harm to the local population through toxic, air-borne pollutants, adding that, over 40% of Nigeria’s natural gas is flared and billions of dollars are lost annually.
Akinola also examined the energy utilization method in Nigeria, which he said, was far from being efficient, pointing out that, besides direct loss due to waste(flaring), “using energy in-fficiently had has some major implications which include: the investment in some energy supply infrastructure being far in excess; the environmental problems associated with utilization, being more aggravated due to large energy consumption and energy produced, not being enough for the teeming population.”
Akinola noted that the situation in Nigeria had been so, because “until recent years, there has been little, if any need for the society to concern itself with energy supply, demand and cost. All the major sectors – industrial, commercial, transportation and residential, have been designed for, and have grown on an unrestricted access to cheap energy”
He therefore called for a quick change of this attitude of complacency by the government and the people, as well, and for measures to be put in place to tackle these obstacles to sustainable energy development, immediately.