The successful implementation of renewable energy technologies in developing nations like Nigeria depends on technology transfer and capacity building. Technologies for renewable energy are crucial for achieving sustainable development, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and granting access to cheap and clean energy. However, a lack of technology restricts the use of these technologies in developing nations. This article will examine how capacity building and technology transfer have impacted Nigeria’s use of renewable energy.
Renewable energy is the use of alternative energy. They can be referred to in layman’s terms as a natural source of energy. They are usable energy from natural sources that are replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed.
The current state of the Nigerian energy space is one that requires strategic intervention. The average Nigerian does not have access to a 24-hour electricity supply and most probably owns a ‘backyard generator’. Businesses, companies and industries plagued with similar conditions often completely rely on generating their electricity from Industrial Generators, as opposed to banking on the inconsistency of the power supply. This inevitably puts Nigeria as one of the top oil-consuming countries in the world. Also, this increases the amount of emissions into the atmosphere, which is antagonistic to the sustainability that renewable energy ‘preaches’.
A Gander at Nigeria’s renewable energy transition efforts
Nigeria is not entirely oblivious to the importance of renewable energy and is currently taking steps to achieve a sustainable environment. In 2022, the Government, through former Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo in collaboration with Sustainable Energy for All, launched the Nigeria Energy Transition Plan (NETP). The purpose of which is to showcase Nigeria’s pathway to achieving net-zero emissions by 2060 by focusing on the Power, Transport, Oil & Gas, Cooking and Industry Sectors.
Prior to this launch, the Climate Change Act 2021 was passed in Nigeria after COP26, United Nations Climate Change Conference. This framework is also aimed towards attaining low carbon emissions, promoting inclusive green growth and sustainable economic development.
Also worth mentioning is the Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP) 2005. The REMP was formulated with the goal of increasing the supply of renewable energy from 13% of total energy generated in 2015 to 23% in 2025 and 36% in 2030. This is to ensure that renewable energy accounts for 10% of Nigerian total energy consumption by 2025. There is also the collaboration between Nigeria and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Corporation (BMZ) for the Nigeria Energy Support Programme II (co-founded by the European Union), which provides nearly 16,000 people in rural areas with access to solar power. In 2018, USAID through its four-year REEP in partnership with Power Africa, connected 16,600 solar installations which provided 261,923 Nigerian citizens with access to renewable energy.
Furthermore, in an effort to mitigate the financial effects of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Federal Government developed the Solar Power Naija program as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP). Through a financing program worth 140 billion Naira, the project sought to establish five million connections. The Jangefe Roni Local Government Area in Jigawa State served as the launch location for this initiative in 2021, which was later expanded to include the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other parts of the country, like Anambra, Kebbi, Lagos, and Plateau during its initial phase. The objective is to raise the living conditions for about 25 million Nigerians.
The role of technology transfer and capacity building for renewable energy
Technology Transfer: Despite the concerted steps taken towards energy transition to clean energy in Nigeria, there are yet major drawbacks in the implementation of these plans and policies. One of the major drawbacks which is the focal point of this article is the inadequacy of the appropriate technologies to fully deploy renewable energy in Nigeria. Nigeria has abundant renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, and hydro, but the country lacks the technology and skills required to harness these resources efficiently. Technology transfer in this instance, will help to bridge this gap and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in the country. The transfer of technology will also help to reduce the cost of renewable energy deployment, which is also another major barrier to the effective and full adoption of renewable energy in Nigeria.
Technology transfer is the process of transferring knowledge, skills, and technology from one entity to another. In the context of renewable energy deployment in Nigeria, technology transfer involves the transfer of technology, skills, and knowledge from developed countries or multinational corporations to local entities such as government agencies, private sector firms, and research institutions.
Technology transfer can be accomplished through various means such as licensing agreements, joint ventures, and partnerships. In other words, Public-Private Partnerships are the bedrock for technology transfer in the renewable sector. This is because of the heavy funding required to acquire those technologies.
It is worth noting that there are currently existing public-private partnerships in the Renewable energy space in Nigeria aimed at the implementation of the nation’s energy transition goal. The Windmill Project in Rimi Local Government Area of Katsina State is a 10MW wind farm power project that is proposed to provide steady power to the indigenes of the local government and its environs upon completion. This foregoing project is being funded by the Japanese International Corporation Agency and will be Nigeria’s first wind-propelled electricity plant project.
There is also a collaboration between Nigeria and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to build a 5MW biomass turbine in Ebonyi State. This biomass turbine is set to use husks from the mills, which are also biomass harvested to generate power. Another biomass technology that is available in Nigeria is owned by a United States-based company, All Power Labs (APL), which is in partnership with Bioenergy and Envirocycles Nigeria Ltd. This partnership demonstrated a pioneering technology called Power Pallets, which is the generation of energy based on biomass gasification.
Capacity Building: Capacity building is another critical component of renewable energy deployment in Nigeria. Capacity building involves the development of human, institutional, and organizational capacity to effectively design, implement and manage renewable energy projects. Capacity building can be achieved through various means such as training, education, and technical assistance.
Capacity building is crucial in Nigeria because of the limited human and institutional capacity in the renewable energy sector. The lack of capacity has resulted in a significant skills gap in the sector, which has hindered the deployment of renewable energy projects in the country. Capacity building can help to address this gap by providing the necessary skills and knowledge required for the effective deployment of renewable energy projects.
Capacity building can also help to create jobs and improve the economy. By developing human capacity in the renewable energy sector, the country can create new jobs and stimulate economic growth. This can also lead to the development of local expertise and technology, which can further accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in the country.
In order to achieve significant capacity building in the sector it is important to implement local content requirements in the renewable energy sector as is currently done in the oil & gas sector as seen in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010.
The implementation of similar legislation in the Renewable Energy Sector in Nigeria would not only increase indigenous participation in the Sector but would also promote the transfer of technology and skill to Nigerian staff and labour in the Industry. It would also establish a body that should be responsible for the implementation of the Act or extend the jurisdiction of the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board to implement the proposed framework, by creating a department solely for Renewable Energy local content implementation within the Board. The writers are of the opinion that an independent body that works together with the Nigerian Energy Transition Office would be the preferable option, as this would aid the government in applying a measurement standard to study the growth in the sector and regulate the importation of technology, encourage capacity building and monitor investments in the Renewable Energy Sector under one body.
Technology transfer and capacity building play crucial roles in the successful deployment of renewable energy in Nigeria. While Nigeria has made notable efforts to transition to clean energy and reduce carbon emissions, there are significant barriers to overcome, including the lack of appropriate technologies and skills in harnessing renewable energy resources. Technology transfer, through partnerships and collaborations with developed countries and multinational corporations, can bridge this gap and accelerate the adoption of renewable energy technologies in the country. This transfer of knowledge, skills, and technology can also help reduce the cost of renewable energy deployment, making it more accessible and affordable.
Additionally, capacity building is essential for developing the human and institutional capacity necessary for designing, implementing, and managing renewable energy projects effectively. By providing training, education, and technical assistance, Nigeria can address the skills gap in the renewable energy sector and create new jobs while stimulating economic growth. Overall, by prioritizing technology transfer and capacity building, Nigeria can accelerate its transition to renewable energy, achieve sustainable development, and improve access to clean and affordable energy for its citizens.
Ozioma Agu is a Partner at Stren & Blan Partners and supervises the Firm’s Energy Sector. Chizitereihe Oti is an Associate in the Intellectual Property and Corporate Services Practice Groups of the Firm
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