Promoting energy transition as an incentive for achieving carbon neutrality
Mustapha Ramalan is an advisor to the Director General of the National Agency for The Great Green Wall (NAGGW) Dr. Yusuf Maina-Bukar who marked his first year in office, having been appointed on April 4, 2022 by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari. Mustapha writes on the need for energy transition in Nigeria as a climate change strategy.
The increasing adverse impact of climate change in Nigeria has been well documented. Droughts, Flash floods, erosion, natural hazard and other disasters have occurred more rapidly in communities resulting in loss of means of livelihood, property, public infrastructure and farmland. In 2022 alone, more than dozens of human lives were lost as floods ravaged about two-thirds of the country.
Environmentally-insensitive human behaviours including pollution, improper waste disposal and deforestation are major contributory factors of climate change.
In Nigeria, high carbon emissions remain a major challenge as the country’s carbon level increased to 127 million tonnes in 2021, from 120 million in 2020, with burning of fossil fuels for domestic and manufacturing activities being a leading factor.
Transition from fossil to alternative cleaner energy sources ranks among the global trends the country can explore to deal with CO2 problem. Advancement in solar and electric or fueless cars and deployment of AI and robotics are innovations that many countries are leveraging to lower carbons.
Hence, the planned fuel subsidy removal policy by the Federal Government of Nigeria, effective June 2023, could serve as an incentive towards achieving carbon neutrality by the set global 2050 timeline, if well harnessed.
Nigeria is blessed with abundant sun that we can convert into affordable off grid electricity for homes and small businesses. Adapting to solar lighting systems will reduce usage of fossil fuel significantly and promote cleaner and a healthier ecosystem. It will improve quality of life and reduce hospitalization as less will people get sick.
Public-private partnerships can attract increased investment and development of the solar system. That means more jobs will be created, and more rural communities can open up for development. With jobs availability, rural-urban migration would reduce.
Since his resumption as Director General of the NAGGW, Dr. Yusuf Maina-Bukar has focused on giving full credence to the mandate of the Agency which is at the forefront of combating desertification and land degradation in Nigeria, in line with the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD).
Dr Yusuf, who is an expert in Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Development is working to collaborate with factories in Nigeria that manufacture solar panels; and has already identified one of them in Borno State, North East Nigeria. His administration has developed proposals to build field stations in the Great Green Wall belt to carry out research in bid to scale up these capabilities with a plan to establish seed processing units and bio units to extract methane from cow dung as part of the energy transition plan for Nigeria.
The Director General firmly believes that lowering, and ultimately erasing Nigeria’s carbon footprints should be embraced by individuals, families, and corporate organisations in both the public and private sectors, while the efforts to minimize the effects of climate change on humanity and the ecosystem are pursued and implemented pragmatically by all stakeholders.
As part of the commitment to improving the livelihoods of communities affected by desertification, reducing apparent manifestation of poverty, and building the resilience of the people against the phenomena of climate change, the NAGGW under Dr. Yusuf has launched and implemented laudable initiatives to address the effects of climate change and transform the affected communities into an economic hub.
For instance, measures are in place to protect affected plantations and trees against indiscriminate burning and felling of trees. A proposal for an innovation called the water box has been endorsed by the Pan African Great Green Wall (PAGGW) Council of Ministers, and this proposal been presented to and granted approval by the Honourable Minister of Environment for implementation by the Nigeria Government. The water box innovation which is owned by Netherlands based Groassis will aide Nigerias planting activities to collect and keep water for a longer period of time (3-5 months) and crucially it can be used for up to 10 years, thereby ensuring a sustainable all-year round planting, further guaranteeing food security in the country and value for money.
All these steps being taken also affirm how government is committed to the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari, who as President of Heads of States and Governments of the Pan African Great Green Wall (PAGGW), is fully committed to the national wellbeing of protecting and conserving the African ecosystem.
It is also gratifying to note that Nigeria leads the PAGGW initiative and our strategic position as Africa’s most populous country and one of the largest economies on the continent, serves as a motivation for other countries to follow.
The last one year has been an incredible journey for the Director General and his team as each Agency outing has been impressive starting with COP15 held in Montreal Canada and COP27 which held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Relationships with the Agency’s strategic partners including UNCCD, UNEP etcetera are very cordial, and the Agency appreciates their partnership and look forward to their full support.
The National Agency for the Great Green Wall under the watch of Dr. Yusuf Maina-Bukar will continue to play a leading role in fulfilling the laudable vision of the African Union and its Heads of State and Governments, which informed the adoption and launch of the Great Green Wall in the Sahel and Sahara Initiative (GGWSSI), in 2007.
Dr. Yusuf Maina-Bukar holds a Ph.D from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, on “The Impact of the Emerging Climate Change Risks on Sustainable Urban Growth”; M.Sc. in “Advanced Sustainability of the Built Environment” from the University of Dundee, United Kingdom, and B.Sc. in Urban and Regional Planning from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria. He has vast knowledge in Climate Change Adaptation, Sustainable Urban Growth and Environmental Impact Assessment. Prior to his appointment as the DG/CEO of NAGGW, Dr. Yusuf was a Deputy Director at Desert Research, Monitoring and Control Centre at Yobe State University, where he coordinated the partnership that led to the establishment of Shelterbelts and Woodlots in Yobe State amongst other projects.
Dr. Yusuf has worked on numerous development projects targeted at adapting and mitigating the impacts of emerging climate change risks on diverse economic and growth activities. He has published/contributed scholarly resources and presented in various international conferences and workshops, and served as a panelist at national and international forums. A member of the Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), Dr. Yusuf has received professional trainings from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in London, United Kingdom, amongst other reputable professional organisations.