Nigeria: Harnessing Critical Role of Climate-Smart Infrastructure Design, Development in Nigeria

22 June 2021

As plans for the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow intensifies, Chiemelie Ezeobi writes on the efforts by UK Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility, a UK Aid-funded demand-led technical assistance programme that helps the Nigerian government deliver socially inclusive, climate-smart infrastructure

For the UK Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (UKNIAF), a UK Aid-funded demand-led technical assistance programme that helps the Nigerian government deliver socially inclusive, climate-smart infrastructure, its goal is to harness the critical role such programme plays as a delivery component of UK Aid.

Recently, the Managing Director of UKNIAF, Prof Chidiebere Onyia spoke with the British Deputy High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones about the aspects of UKNIAF's work on Energy, Infrastructure Financing, and Roads. They also discussed how the programme can support the Energy Transition Councils' efforts to prepare Nigeria for COP26 and beyond.

During the discussions the Deputy High Commissioner explained that UKNIAF remains critical to the UK-Nigeria collaboration in the Energy Transition Council, not only in preparing for COP26 but also for initiatives beyond this event.

UKNIAF supports COP26 through its work with regulators and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the energy sector, where they highlight opportunities to mitigate the challenges of the energy transition, both on-grid and off-grid. These opportunities are also matched with potential investments. The Energy Transition Council allows UKNIAF to step up our engagement and efforts in the run-up to COP26; and beyond COP26, the focus will be on resolving the obstacles hindering Nigeria from making the energy transition a reality where our programme's assistance in this respect is critical.

During the talk, they both agreed that coordination and capacity across key MDAs must be improved in the run-up to COP26 and beyond if policy objectives are to be met, adding that already, a lot of work is being done to encourage energy transition, however, the challenges of the energy transition remain, and they must be acknowledged as we work to overcome them.

During the discussions, the Deputy High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones said: "We live in a competitive world where investors are looking for a location that provides adequate return on investment. It is important, therefore, to make Nigeria as competitive as possible to attract those investments.

" There is a lot of goodwill, effort, and application; consequently, we must work with the Nigerian leadership while also highlighting this to potential investors. This is one of UKNIAF's key component areas - Infrastructure Finance."

Prof Chidiebere Onyia, the Managing Director of UKNIAF said: "The UKNIAF's efforts to assist the regulator in developing evidence-based regulatory practices are critical in raising climate awareness and will go some way to aligning Nigerian government priorities with climate-smart principles.

"Looking at government priorities through the lens of climate sensitivity does not preclude seeing the broader issues that require attention, such as bankability, efficiency, and access. Data is always critical for regulators and investors, and understanding the impact of policy and allowing data to inform predictable regulation is vital."

Additionally, the Press and Public Affairs Officer, British Deputy High Commission, Lagos, Ndidiamaka Eze, disclosed that "the UKNIAF is collaborating with relevant MDAs, building the capacity regarding infrastructure investment, to boost the confidence of potential investors in the energy, roads, and infrastructure sectors in general. Increasing the capacity of MDA personnel is an issue that has arisen across the board, including at the sub-national level.

"UKNIAF is a demand-led technical assistance programme funded by the United Kingdom Aid that assists the Nigerian government in delivering socially inclusive, climate-smart infrastructure. The program began in October 2019 and will last four years, until September 2023.

"The program has made the following significant achievements in the 20 months since its inception and they include road conditions surveys: in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UKNIAF has developed a road survey method that provides a good coverage level (with regard to kilometers per day).

"Between mid-2020 and March 2021, three road survey programs were carried out in collaboration with FERMA and FMWH personnel. Two of them focused on key agricultural routes (in collaboration with FERMA), while the third focused on gathering information to support FMWH's Highway Development and Management Initiative (HDMI), a high priority project for the Ministry that aims to place concession-specific routes on the FRN;

"Infrastructure Finance: in March 2021, we provided out a three-day training workshop on climate-smart infrastructure public-private partnerships to selected staff of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Debt Management Office, Bureau for private Enterprise and Rural Electrification Agency. We have screened over 164 projects to identify a pipeline of 11 climate smart infrastructure projects with a value of $2.8bn.

"Engaged and secured support from key stakeholders including the ICRC, BPE, FMFBNP, and key federal and subnational MDAs, as evidenced by draft and signed Mutual Accountability Frameworks with seven MDAs that will guide the implementation of UKNIAF technical assistance to advance climate resilient, inclusive, and pro-poor projects, prepare concept notes and Outline Business Cases, and access early-stage financing for projects and;

" Power Transmission: We are working with Transmission Company of Nigeria's National Contol Centre (NCC) and have conducted a review of the processes and procedures deployed at the NCC. During this process, we identified a number of recommendations for improvements, which, if implemented, would significantly improve grid performance and power throughput.

"We are collaborating with the Transmission Company of Nigeria's National Control Centre (NCC) and have conducted a review of the NCC's processes and procedures. During this whole process, we identified a number of improvement recommendations that, if implemented, would significantly improve grid performance and power throughput."

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