2015 is a pivotal year for Nigeria, not only is the country facing Presidential elections, but also oil prices dropping has led to more discussions on finding alternative energy resources not only to boost the economy, but to enhance the quality of life for Nigerian inhabitants. The Afrolutionist held an in depth conversation with Zaid Shopeju, the founder and Director of Zero Carbon Africa and Youth Vision Alliance Network on the facilitation and need for renewable energy resources.
Nigeria is well known for its energy resources, such as its oil reserves. However, 117.8 million Nigerians to date utilize wood and biomass for cooking, according to your opinion what contributes the continuous use of these resources that have a negative impact to the environment?
First, the Africa continent and Nigeria as a nation is blessed with natural clean energy sources which are renewable, cheap and abundant. We have the potential and ability to use renewable energy to fuel our industrial growth, but unfortunately short-sightedness of our leaders and policy makers is robbing us of this great opportunity and putting our people in more environmental and health danger on a daily basis. The majority of the people are forced to source for alternative and sometimes dirty energy like coal, biomass and others to power their homes and cook – as you have rightly mentioned. This is a situation of misplaced priorities and lack of interest in the wellbeing of the people.
Looking at Osun State, its population encompasses only 2.4% to the entire Nigerian demographic; however your organisation saw a need to make a town hall meeting on creating alternative non-renewable energy resource. What inspired this?
In time past, most of our events and projects are centered in Lagos State which is the epicentre of commerce and trade in Nigeria. However, majority of people in Lagos state are not from the state; hence the need to go into the hinterland and focus more on the rural people whose voices and plights are often unheard. At the moment, Nigeria generates less than 5000 MW of electricity for its population of over 160 million people; whereas South Africa generates over 40,000 MW for its population of about 52 million people. The Osun State government in the past 4 years have shown remarkable interest in environmental issues and I believe that staging the project in Osogbo the capital city might be the pivot that will propel the state government to spearhead the campaign for urgent divestment into clean renewable energy. This effort can be made possible through a concerted effort by civil society groups, policy makers to develop enabling frameworks to encourage investment and make possible market development for these renewable alternatives.
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