This Day (Lagos)

8 January 2013

Nigeria: Christian Aids Reports Decline in Rural Electrification

A report just released by the International Centre for Energy, Environment & Development (ICEED) in collaboration with Christian Aid finds a significant decline in political interest for expanding electricity services to rural areas.

The report: 'Expanding Access to Pro-Poor Energy Services in Nigeria' says "even though Nigeria has embarked on ambitious power sector reforms, ensuring that electricity reaches the poorest has over the years taken a back seat. Not only is investments in rural electrification in decline, Nigeria has no history of providing annual budgets for cooking energy programmes." The report says, "95,300 Nigerians, mostly women and children die annually from smoke coming from the use of fire wood."

According to the Executive Director of ICEED, Ewah Eleri, "Nigeria must learn from South Africa. Even though South Africa had over 40,000MW installed capacity by 1994, only 34 per cent of the population had access to the grid. It took a bold and ambitious programme to expand power to more than 80 per cent of South Africans within a decade. If Nigeria's power sector reforms fail to integrate rural electrification, expansion of access will be elusive."Eleri said the report is being launched at a time the United Nations declared 2012 as the year of Sustainable Energy for All. It seeks to support a new momentum to launch energy access on the national policy agenda. The report presents new evidence of the growing energy poverty in Nigeria. It analyses the level of government, private sector and donor funding for energy services that benefit poor people and reviews international best practices in expanding access to energy services.

The report recommends a number of action points for expanding access to energy services that would benefit the poor.

It calls on the Federal Government to launch an ambitious national rural electrification programme and that government should establish a national cooking energy programme.

The report urges the Central Bank of Nigeria to set aside 10 per cent of the existing power intervention fund for pro-poor energy financing; and that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission should establish a clear framework for the utilisation of the Consumer Assistance Fund.

Other recommendations in the report are that the government should use a proportion of the Ecological Fund to finance cooking energy; establishment of a donor's platform on pro-poor energy; and the mobilisation of civil society in providing community-level energy services. The Country Manager of Christian Aid Nigeria, Jane East, stated her organisation's commitment to tackling the causes of poverty.

According to Ms. East, "access to energy is critical to addressing poverty and ensuring that poor people become part of the solution to the climate crisis.

The provision of clean cooking solutions are particularly important for women, in reducing respiratory health problems, and the physical and time demands on them in fetching firewood," she said.

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