Energy can be easily described as the universal tender for the socio-economic development of every economy as it cuts across most sectors of national development such as electricity, oil and gas, transportation, agriculture, science and technology, health environment, education, banking sub-sector amongst others.
Though it covers a myriad of subsectors, the energy sector must have a unified and coordinated policy document to drive its implementation/deployment for development.
It is no secret that most developing countries in Africa, especially Nigeria, is battling the incessant challenge of energy supply. The government in its effort to tackle the challenge established the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) in 1979 and charged it with the responsibility for the strategic planning and coordination of the nation’s policies in the field of energy in all its ramifications. In doing so, it serves as a centre for gathering and dissemination of information relating to national policies in the field of energy development as well as makes recommendations for the exploitation of new energy sources to government amongst other functions.
The commission, however, did not commence operations till 1989, as a direct response to the decision of the authority of heads of states and Government of ECOWAS, taken at Cotonou in 1982, that every Member State should establish by law a body within the machinery of Government to be charged with the responsibility for coordination and supervising all energy functions and activities within the Member State.
As a direct response to its mandate, the ECN, in 1990, a year after the commencement of operation, initiated a committee comprising of some members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to draft a National Energy Policy (NEP) which will serve as a blueprint for the sustainable development, supply, and utilization of energy resources within the economy.
The draft NEP was submitted to the government in 1993 and was reviewed by an inter-ministerial committee in 1996, at the instance of the Head of State, under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Science and Technology. It was further reviewed in 2002 by an inter-ministerial committee.
The reviewed policy document was finally approved by the Federal Government in April 2003 and was launched by President Olusegun Obasanjo on June 20, 2005.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a sensitisation workshop on the National Energy Policy and related masterplan held in Abuja, the director-general, ECN, Prof. Eli Bala, lamented that 16 years after its first review, the policy document which has been reviewed twice is yet to get presidential assent.
“The 2003 edition of the National Energy Policy (NEP) had gone through two inter-ministerial reviews in 2013 and 2018, respectively, in response to the changing scenarios in the domestic and international energy scenes. The 2018 draft National Energy Policy is now undergoing due processes to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval,” he said.
According to him, the world is moving forward and the energy subsector is changing every day; hence, the need for a review to place the nation at a strategic point to harness the potentials of the sector and effectively deploy it for national development.
He maintained that the delay in approving the reviewed document places Nigeria at a disadvantage as the nation is running on an obsolete document that would not allow it to benefit from emerging technologies currently driving the world.
Outlining the workshop objectives earlier, the director, linkages, research and consultancy, ECN, Engr. Okon Ekpenyong, said they include popularisation of the contents and structure of NEP and allow stakeholders to understand their roles in achieving the nation’s energy goals for stable, reliable and affordable energy supply from diverse sources of our energy endowment; enable stakeholders to mainstream the policies and proposed implementation actions into their respective plans and activities; and sensitize and create public awareness on the existence of the “policy document”, thereby assist policymakers and developers for buy-in, and adopt the policy documents in their plans/actions.
Listing the way forward for the implementation of the NEP, he underscored the need to secure the support of all the stakeholders – the government at various levels, the private sector and the general public; secure appropriate legislative empowerment for its implementation at various levels of energy users; and to ensure that the NEP guides all activities in the energy sector and is the overall roadmap for a sustainable energy supply system in Nigeria.
“Energy planning must be viewed as an integral part of national development planning such that energy development decisions are not taken in isolation, but rather, closely linked and reconciled with other sectors of the economy;
“The effective coordination of the various interrelated energy and non-energy sub-sectors of the economy is a pre-requisite for the optimal development of the energy sector.
“State and local government levels should have departments/units responsible for energy matters to provide necessary links with national governments for the formulation of national energy policies, plans and programmes in the country,” he added.
Earlier in his goodwill address, the World Bank representative, Mr. Bunu Bukar, described the workshop as a laudable initiative, saying the bank had invested so much in Nigeria’s energy sector, adding it would continue to support the commission and other energy-related organisations to achieve sustainable energy in Nigeria.
“This is a laudable initiative, we at the bank always indicated our interest to partner with any government MDA to support and drive the initiative of achieving energy access. Our goal is to ensure that Nigeria attains universal energy access through our various programmes in Nigeria with different MDAs.
“We are investing a lot of money on the entire African continent. Nigeria is the only country that has the largest donor funding coming from the World Bank over $1bn.
“So, the idea is to support the Federal Government of Nigeria. We are here to support the government in any shape or form. We will support ECN or any relevant government MDA to achieve that goal,” he added.