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Government formulates gas policy to boost clean cooking

A National Gas Policy that will enhance quick adoption of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a choice fuel for cooking in the country is in the pipeline, the Federal Government has said.

Environment Minister, Amina Mohammed, making a presentation before an audience at the forum
Environment Minister, Amina Mohammed, making a presentation before an audience at the forum

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, who made the disclosure in Abuja on Monday, November 28 2016, during this year’s edition of the Nigeria Clean Cooking Forum, said the move was in furtherance of the government’s efforts to promote clean cooking. The Federal Ministry of Environment, in partnership with the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, organised the event.

In line with this, the Executive Vice Chairperson, Techno Oil Ltd., Mrs. Nkechi Obi, disclosed that the company would soon launch an ultra-modern cylinder production plant to make LPG more affordable and accessible. In addition, a coastal LPG terminal of 15000MT will be commissioned by next year, she added.

Mr. Dayo Adeshina, president, NLPG Association, underscored the need to tackle the challenges of affordability, availability, accessibility and acceptability in the rolling out of LPG on a mass scale.

While LPG is regarded as the most desired clean fuel for cooking, the consensus however is that, for years to come, poor communities all over Nigeria will depend on bio mass (firewood, briquettes).

Minister for Environment, Amina Mohammed, pointed out that internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees suffer the most energy poverty in Nigeria. She added that, in order to facilitate the displaced communities’ return home or to settle down where they wish to, providing access to energy will be a key element among the range of enabling measures.

According to her, climate change presents a growing challenge to both men and women. Its negative effects are likely to hit the poorest people in the rural parts of Nigeria which women constitute a major part of, she adds, saying: “This is even more urgent particularly in rural areas where resources are scarce and the ability to cope is lower than in the urban areas.”

Chairperson, Steering Committee of the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Christine K, submits: “Typical camps for the IDPs are characterised by lack of opportunities for employment and meaningful livelihood. This contributes to youth restiveness and tension. Adopting alternative fuels and energy technologies can create jobs for IDPS, especially women and youths. The use of clean and efficient cookstoves also reduces the risks of physical and sexual attacks faced by IDP women.”

President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, who was represented by Senator Philip Aduda, the Senate Minority Whip, pledged the willingness and readiness of the National Assembly to support and pass laws that will promote clean cooking in the country. He also committed to the provision of a strong value chain for efficient and clean cookstoves and fuels that will be in line with the “Made in Nigeria” campaign.

“The Senate will work with the Federal Ministry of Environment to ensure the provision of budgetary allocations for the clean cookstoves sector in Nigeria in the 2017 budget,” Dr Saraki promised.

Managing Director of Shell, Osagie Osunbor, represented by Igo Weli, General Manager, External Relations, remarked that “Shell is doing a lot in the clean cookstoves sector by partnering with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in ensuring that cleaner and safer fuels are available in the country”. He emphasised the need for a strong collaboration with the executive and legislative arms of government to deliver clean cooking energy in the country.

British High Commissioner, Paul Arkwright, commended the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the Federal Ministry of Environment for the initiative and re-emphasised the need to find appropriate solutions that works for Nigerian in terms of affordability and financing, among others.

Coordinator, Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Ewah Eleri, who was represented by Precious Onuvae, noted that cooking which should ordinarily be enjoyed by cooks has turned out to be a killer in Nigerian homes and institutions. She called on relevant Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to take leadership in developing policies to support the production and adoption of clean cookstoves in the country. One of such policies could be the establishment of single digit interest rate facility to strengthen local production of clean cookstoves in the country.

Director of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Dr. Kayode Fagbemi, expressed the hope that IDP camps and IDP communities will have access to clean cooking facility.

Ms. Folake Salawu of ICEED, on her part, presented the success story from Adamawa State, where women and youth are being trained in the production and use of clean cookstoves in an IDP settlement.

Key outcomes of the daylong forum were listed to include:

  • Launch a behavioural change/awareness campaign for clean and efficient cookstoves in the country;
  • Set up training centres for local production of efficient biomass cookstoves in each geopolitical zones;
  • Encourage clean cooking in government owned facilities like prisons, government boarding secondary schools and IDP camps, among others; and,
  • Establish gas refill stations in all senatorial districts; exempt VAT for LPGs and reduce import duty on clean cookstoves parts to make it more affordable among others.

Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril, in a closing remark, stated: “The huge participation shows the importance of the forum. This is the beginning of greater things to come. The Ministry will continue to support and partner with the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to actualise the resolutions of this great event.”

The forum brought together over 150 participants including policymakers, private sector leaders, foundations, research institutions, development partners, women groups and civil society stakeholders to reposition Nigeria’s strategy for clean cooking.

Observers believe Nigerians suffer a “silent” energy crisis – poor access to clean cooking energy. Over 20 million households and about 122 million Nigerians are said to depend on primarily wood as a source of fuel for cooking, this is despite the abundance of modern cooking energy sources including natural gas.

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report on use of fuelwood, traditional use of firewood is estimated to cause 95,000 deaths annually in Nigeria. After malaria and HIV/AIDS, it is said to be the nation’s third highest killer of mostly women and children.

Ms Salawu said: “The traditional cooking method is expensive, burning up to 90% more wood than is necessary and costing poor families money that could be put to better use on education, health and nutrition. Even though the country is one of the world’s largest exporters of LPG, most Nigerian households rely on firewood for cooking.

“The cooking energy poverty is felt most among persons who are affected by internal and external crisis such as refugees and internally displaced persons. In North East Nigeria, persons displaced by the Boko Haram crisis are facing severe challenges in meeting their basic needs including access to cooking energy and fuels. Fetching of firewood around camps and host communities lead to conflicts and increase the chances of gender-based violence against women. Both boys and girls spend time that could be used for education in fetching wood for family cooking.”

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