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Moved by the deteriorating power supply in the country, environmental damage by fossil foil and the mass rural and urban unemployment, the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) has now initiated moves to popularize the exploitation of the numerous renewable energy sources available to the country.
The Energy Commission has always emphasized that Nigeria is well endowed with various energy resources including oil, gas, coal, tar sands, hydro solar, wind and biomass. Indeed the National Energy Policy approved by the Federal Government in 2003, promotes the achievement of an optimal energy supply mix, consisting of all the viable energy resources.
To give meaning to the policy the ECN has been making efforts to promote among others, the use of the nation's renewable energy potentials of solar, wind, hydro and biomass. The need to develop a viable alternative to firewood and kerosene is the reason for the ECN's initiative into the widespread use of renewable energy to solve the pro blem of energy scarcity in rural areas of the country.
The lack of such alternatives has not only put pressure on our forests, which is the source of fuel wood, but also promoted deforestation and the twin problems of desertification and soil erosion in different parts of the country. So acute is the desertification problem in the northern fringes bordering the Sahara desert, that in about 50 years from now some of the Nigerian settlements will be wiped out. Fortunately, according to the Energy Commission various renewable energy technologies have been developed at the two energy research centres at the Usumanu Dan Fodio University (UDU), Sokoto and the University of Nigeria (UN), Nsukka.
The technologies include solar dryers, biogas digesters, solar cookers, solar water heaters, solar distillers, photovoltaic generators, improved fuel wood and sawdust stoves as well as wind generators and small hydro power plants. Some of the devices were developed at the centres, while ot hers were obtained through technology acquisition from other countries. In an effort to promote these technologies throughout the country, the Energy Commission of Nigeria realized that it needs the participation of an establishment that reaches out to all the 744 local government areas in the country. No other organization has such a wide reach for an assignment of this magnitude as the National Youth Service Corps.
Additionally the youth corps members are the most articulate and educated persons in the country for this purpose. The NYSC too realized that its development activities in the rural areas, in such areas as agriculture, water supply, rural industry employment generation, control of soil erosion and desertification need energy supply technologies appropriate for the rural communities in the country. The Energy Commission possesses the technology with which the corps members can achieve some of these objectives. Cooperation between the ECN and the NYSC, therefore seems not only an imperative, but inevitable.
This cooperation between the duo was formalized through a memorandum of understanding in Abuja in January 1997 by the Chief Executives of the two organizations. The programme to implement this agreement consists of two stages. The first is the sensitization workshop which was held in Kaduna on March 2, this year, training workshop on the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the selected renewable energy devices for about 70 youth corps. members who expressed interest in the scheme.
The training is to expose the corps to devices they can easily replicate and disseminate the techniques to institutions and communities in which they will serve. The venue is the Kaduna Polytechnic and the workshop stretched from Monday May 22 to 26, 2006. It is the expectation of the ECN that the corps members will establish their own businesses to mass produce and commercialize the renewable energy devices.
By so doing they will create jobs and eradicate poverty rather than remain job seekers themselves. The ECN has organized similar training workshops in Sokoto, Lagos and Enugu States and plan to have similar ones in other states of the federation. The training workshop attracted all the stakeholders, among them the NYSC Director-General, Brigadier General Yusuf Bomoi, Rector of Kaduna Polytechnic Engineer (Dr) Danjuma Isah and officials from the Ene rgy Research Centre at the Usumanu Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.
Surprisingly, no single entrepreneur attended the training workshop which was why this reporter asked the Director- General of the Energy Commission of Nigeria, Professor Sambo why the programme is receiving such a cold reception from entrepreneurs who are expected to commercialize the renewable energy devices; "It seems to me that this idea of the private sector leading and driving the economy is yet to be entrenched in Nigerians. For Nigeria to be developed there is no option than in seeing that the private sector drives our economy. And what government will be required to do is to set up the necessary environment. "So in this our own little way between the ECN and the NYSC we are exposing these corps members and training them. We have agreed with the NYSC management that we will look around for possible sources of finance to enable these corps member set up their businesses. So that is the kind of environment that the Energy Commission and the NYSC is trying to create. To look for third parties and to convince them to provide some funds to train the youth corps in the renewable sources of energy system".
Additional information: AllAfrica
News date: 03/07/2006