Groups urge governments to devote 5 percent of income to alternative energy

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A coalition of non governmental and civil society organizations have asked the Nigerian as well as other African governments to allocate five percent of their annual income to fund research and development of alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, and biomass.

This was part of an 11 point resolution made by participants at the end of a two day ‘Energy Access and Alternatives for Africa’ workshop organized by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Thursday, in Lagos.

Participants also called on African governments to adopt alternative energy sources that are community-driven and sustainable.

They further noted that governments must put in place adequate regulatory framework for monitoring compliance with environmental standards including the conduct of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by indigenous and transnational corporations.

“One of the ways of looking at the well being of the citizens of a country is to consider the energy available to them,” said Godwin Ojo, a director at ERA/FoEN.

“In other words, energy poverty of a people, the availability, affordability, and popularity can be seen from how the people are using energy,” Mr. Ojo added.

“Our energy is not adequate, not even available in many instances, so there is a need to consider those things that will benefit us as a continent, as a nation rather than continuing exporting of there raw materials,” he further stated.

The workshop, organized in collaboration with Counter Balance and Mani Tese/CRBM Europe, brought to the fore, critical issues on the growing energy scarcity and renewed aggressive extraction of natural resources from Africa to meet increasing demand in America and Europe.

“20 percent of the oil extracted in Nigeria goes to Europe,” said Elena Gerebizza, of the Italy-based CRBM.

“Nigeria is a very important provider of oil and gas for the European market and the type of pressure the European government are putting on Nigeria to continue to carry on and continue to send the oil and gas that is desperately needed in Europe is enormous,” Ms. Gerebizza added.

In a communique issued at the end of the workshop, participants observed that the current energy policies in Africa, reflected in high tariff, have unleashed poverty on local communities, especially on rural women who can hardly afford the cost.

“The model that we propose for Africa and for Nigeria and for other economies is a decentralized energy which allows ordinary citizens to determine what energy source they want, how the distribution is to be managed, and how to price the energy,” said Abdulai Darimani, program officer at Third World Network Africa, Ghana.

“We do not want to prescribe to individuals or communities about which specific models that they should take but we know that oil and gas is not the only source of energy,” Mr. Darimani added.

The African continent is forced to exploit its energy resources mainly for export rather than focusing on local needs, according to Mr. Ojo.

“But the point we emphasize here is that enough of energy dependency and colonialism,” said Mr. Ojo.

“There is time now to begin to look at what we have by conducting an energy assessment of Nigeria and for the continent with a view to properly put in place renewable energy model.”