As the world shifts away from fossil fuel to clean and renewable energy sources, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) has urged African leaders to collaborate to develop the continent’s natural resources and energy projects.
Buhari made this call in his speech during the opening ceremony of the maiden edition of the Nigeria-Africa Natural Resource and Energy Summit (NAFFNIS) 2022, themed “Towards a greener Africa” organised by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) and CORE International Mining and Marketing Company and other stakeholders today (June 1, 2022) in Abuja.
Represented by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite, Buhari pointed out that Africa requires a huge amount of energy generation to drive its development in the fight against climate change.
“Amid this energy transition lies many challenges and opportunities for a continent yearning for development. I believe this should spur us as a continent of diverse people to co-operate and collaborate more, initiate innovative solutions to the challenges that are peculiar to us, come up with technologies and products that will lead to the growth and industrialisation of Africa into a more environment-friendly manner while encouraging the development and financing of green energy projects,” he said.
He asserted that the three-day meeting, which had delegates from Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya, Chad, Gambia, Libya etc., provided the opportunity to share views on natural resources and energy market developments, even as he pointed out that Africa’s Declaration of Cooperation would strengthen the continent’s resolve to develop the sector.
“Participating countries in the Declaration of Cooperation would strengthen their cooperation through joint assessment and viewpoints, with the aim to financing sustainable African natural resources and energy projects that are key to the transition, for the benefit of producers and consumers and to regularly review at technical and ministerial levels the status of our cooperation.
“Our joint meetings and activities will support us in formulating favourable policy and strategy development for the natural resource sector as the world looks towards a greener future. A policy that is less subject to extremes, both today and in the future.
“We must strive to remain committed to our joint statements in the Declaration of Cooperation and ensure continuity. This is beyond attaining short-term, demand-supply balancing, while it calls for strengthening our cooperation through a dynamic and transparent framework for sustainable development in the medium to long term. These technical meetings will undoubtedly form an integral part of this critical process,” he added.
Welcoming the delegates in his goodwill message, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, described the energy summit as “apt and timely”, especially since climate change and its challenges are issues that Africa can no longer ignore.
Onyeama posited that these challenges require Africa’s collective efforts and resolve to overcome them and thus the need to adjust its policies to become greener if Africa is to safeguard her continent and, indeed, safeguard her future.
“With the world moving away from fossil fuels many African oil and gas-producing nations whose fortunes and economies are dependent solely on these commodities must learn to come together to chart a strategy that will cushion the effects of the world moving away from fossil fuels while, at the same time, maintaining their commitment to the Paris Agreement,” he said.
Listing some steps Nigeria is taking to meet up with its commitment to safeguarding our planet while also ensuring the sustenance of a high economy, Onyeama, represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, said Nigeria has taken very bold steps to align with the global energy transition to a combination of technology, investment, business strategies and policies to transit from her current energy system to a low-carbon energy system with natural gas playing a pivotal role over the next generation, particularly between now and the year 2060.
“In the mining sector, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has invested heavily in the exploration of our mineral resources, particularly the metals necessary for the global energy transition.
“In renewables, hydro-dam programmes and solar projects as demonstrated by Nigeria’s $619m commitment to the solar homes system project, will help to install solar in homes for up to 5million households serving about 25million Nigerians who are currently disconnected from the national grid,” he added.
In his keynote address, the president, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Samaila Zubairu, pointed out that while Africa’s contribution to the green house gas (GHG) is negligible at less than 4 per cent, it has borne the brunt of the most devastating impacts of climate change from frequent floods to drought to severe heat waves costing lives and livelihood.
He contended that Africa’s low GHG emissions are a reflection of the continent’s crippling, energy deficit, with 4 out of 5 people in the world without energy access living in Sub Saharan Africa.
“Conversely, fossil fuels and other natural resources minerals are critical to the health of African economies and the livelihood of Africans. Nearly 50 per cent of sub–Sharan Africa’s export value has historically been composed of fossil fuels and exporting of natural resources is a significant government revenue earner for Sub Saharan African countries.
“Thus, while Nigeria and other African countries made commitments in line with the rest of the world towards actualisation of net-zero emissions, it is important for Africa to let the world know that this should be pursued in a way that does not impoverish Africa in terms of energy access and general economic development,” he said.
Represented by the senior director, investments group, AFC, Mr. Taiwo Adeniji, Zubairu maintained that Africa should explore other more effective ways that are not at the expense of its economic growth and development.
“That is, can we devise a win-win plan out of this difficult but very important issue? We believe this is where the goals of this summit about knowledge-sharing, policy and strategic development come to the fore. Africa must engage with the rest of the world to change the narrative to ensure that the debate is framed correctly and that the right questions are posed. Africa must embrace her intellectual contribution to the global climate change debate to ensure that Africa’s contribution towards the achievement of net-zero emissions is appropriate, optimal and effective,” he added.
Speaking on the ‘Opportunities within the Nigerian Mining sector’, the managing director, Africa Natural Resources and Mines Limited, Mr. Alok Gupta, highlighted that Nigeria is a country blessed with abundant natural resources.
Sharing data to highlight this fact, he pointed out that around 44 different types of solid minerals and precious metals are found in commercial quantities across more than 500 locations in Nigeria. All 36 states and the FCT have more than one mineral type which is a rare occurrence.
According to him, in a bid to develop the sector to contribute more to Nigeria’s gross domestic product, the Buhari administration encouraged the development of the sector through various reforms such as ease of doing business, tax holidays and others.
He expressed confidence that the summit will chart a way forward for the development of natural resource and energy projects within Nigeria and across Africa in a sustainable, climate-friendly manner.