Opinion: Clean energy revolution: Nigeria’s fossil fuel industry and climate change

According to the Council of Renewable Energy (CRE), Nigeria is the largest Green House Gases emitter in Africa. Green House Gases refer to harmful gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) that are emitted into the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, natural gas, diesel and kerosene. Nigeria is also the largest oil producer with the largest natural gas reserve in the continent.

In the world, Nigeria is the 12th largest exporter of oil and has the 10th largest proven reserves. In 2015, Nigeria was the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world. According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC, 2015) About 45 million litres of petrol, 1 million litres of kerosene and 600,000 litres of diesel are consumed daily in Nigeria. A World Bank study also found that Nigeria accounts for one-six of the total gas flaring in the World which leads to the emission of 400 million tons of carbondioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere in 2017.

For these and many other reasons such as deforestation (of which Nigeria has the highest rate in the world according to Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO in 2005), Nigeria is currently under very heavy strike of global warming. Some of the effects include the following:


Nigeria loses 0.6 km of land to desertification every year. The department of climate change of the Federal Ministry of Environment says desertification process is advancing southwards and leading a potential submergence of the 453km stretch of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. According to a report in the Vanguard Newspaper, 63.8 % of farm lands were lost to desertification in 2016 alone.




The Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) said in a report in 2012, that flooding which occurred at unprecedented level in that year affected 30 of 36 states of Nigeria causing damages estimated at 16.9 billion US Dollars, killing 431 people and displacing 1.3 million people. Moreover in 2015 flooding killed 53 people and displaced 100,000 in Northern Nigeria.  In 2017, flooding killed 17 people and displaced many in Niger State – Nigeria. Flooding is aggravated in Nigeria due to climate change and poor drainage system.

Sea Level Rise and Falling Agricultural Productivity

A report submitted by the Federal Government to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) shows that Nigeria will experience between 50 centimeters (cm) and 1 meter (m) Sea level rise this century. The report also warns that if the current trends of climate change continuous without mitigation measures, the Niger Delta region could lose 35% (about 1500km2) of its land due to Sea level rise by 2100.

The report also shows that agricultural productivity in Nigeria will decline between 10% and 25% by 2080 due to climate change.


Daily Trust Newspaper has reported that, a consistent shift in the climatic and weather conditions in Nigeria and particularly northern Nigeria has become noticeable. For instance, the outset of the rainy season on the average is often expected to commence in northern Nigeria between late March and April, but the current weather conditions show a deviation from this trend particularly in 2015.

Due to drought and conflict in this region of Nigeria, Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) warns that Nigeria is at a credible risk of famine in 2017.


Drying of Lake Chad

Lake Chad is a lake located in the West of Chad and the northeast of Nigeria. It was once Africa’s largest reservoir in the Sahel region covering area of about 26,000 square kilometers, about the size of the US State of Maryland and bigger than Israel or Kuwait.

Due to climate change, the lake covers less than one-fifth of that area today. Abbas Mohammed a climatologist at the University of Maiduguri says “It may even be worse now”.

According to Parviz Koohafkan, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Director of Land and Water, Lake Chad is one of the most important agricultural heritage sites in the World providing a lifeline to nearly 30 million people in four countries – Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Ahmad Salkida, a writer at Africa Renewal from Maiduguri Nigeria wrote “as you approach the Lake Chad basin from Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, the atmosphere of despair is telling. The air is dusty, the wind is fierce and unrelenting, the plants are wilting and the earth is turning into sand dunes. The sparse vegetation is occasionally broken by withered trees and shrubs. The lives of herders, fisher folk and Farmers are teetering on the edge as the lake dries up before their eyes”.

Vegetation and Water, the traditional stipples of livelihood for the Lake Chad community dwellers are vanishing. Vultures feast on dead cows as drought and desertification take their toll. The UN and FAO have called the situation an “ecological catastrophe”, predicting that the lake could disappear this century.

Dr. Idris Ado Yola, an associate Professor of fish studies at Kano University of Science and Technology Wudil had attributed the current insurgency happening in the northeastern Nigeria to the effect of siltation and drying of the Lake Chad as Millions of people lost Job and get frustrated.

Ogoni Land Oil Spills

Ogoni Land of Niger Delta region has benzene levels 900 times higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations where oil was found in the soil 5 meters below the surface destroying agricultural land and aquatic habitat for fishes with subsequent creation of massive poverty, hunger and unemployment in the region. This makes the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to recommend a fund of 1 billion USD to start the largest clean up in history.

Passengers in Nigeria taking ferries to cross Lake Chad whose shore line is receding because the lake is drying up. Picture by Panos/Jacob


Clean energy also called renewable energy is an energy that is collected from renewable resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, biofuel, biomass, waves and geothermal energy. Renewable energy is called clean energy because it do not produce Green House Gases and can be efficiently and effectively be use for electricity generation, air and water heating, transportation and rural energy services. Renewable energy is more reliable energy than fossil energy because unlike fossil energy that is produced under geologic time scale (millions of years), Renewable energy is produced under human time scale (such as daily or annually). Therefore, use of renewable energy will result in significant climate change mitigation (because it is free of GHG), energy security (because it is renewed under short period of time) and economic benefits (because of its high employment potentials).

Renewable energy generation from wind and solar sources.


There are great opportunities for renewable energy in Nigeria better than any country in Africa owing to Nigeria’s large population and economy.


  • No Enough Electricity in Nigeria

Very large numbers of people in Nigeria do not have access to electricity despite its oil riches. Out of over 180 million people in the country, only 40% have access to electricity. This makes Nigeria to become the largest importer of diesel powered generators in the world. According to the US Energy administration (2013), about 5 billion US Dollars are spent monthly by Nigerians for electricity, lightening and heating and about 30% of the total energy consumed in the country is produced in this manner. While South Africa has a population of about 53 million people and produces more than 40,000 megawatts of electricity, Nigeria produces about 4,000 megawatts for a population of more than 180 million people.

Moreover, the majority of people who don’t have access to electricity are in remote location. According to report of Dr. Simon Bradshaw four out of five people without electricity live in rural areas that are often not connected to an electricity grid. This offers a great opportunity for a great uptake of renewable energy in the country both in rural and urban places.

  • Massive Unemployment

Nigeria is suffering from massive unemployment at a rate of 14.2% according to the National Bureau of Statistics, 38% of Nigerians that falls within employable limit are unemployed and 65% of Youth are unemployed as at September 2016. For this, Nigerians will definitely welcome the renewable energy industry for their employment opportunities.

  • Fossil Fuel Prices are High in Nigeria

Renewable energy systems are rapidly becoming more efficient and cheaper. Their share of total energy consumption is increasing. According to Carbon Tracker in 2017, Growth in the consumption of coal and oil could end by 2020 due to increased uptake of renewable and natural gas. Therefore the current High Fossil fuel prices in Nigeria and its fall in the International market coupled with increasing affordability of renewable energy are also good opportunities for a successful uptake of renewable energy in the country.

  • Abundant Raw Material for Clean Energy

Abundant sun shine (up to 6.07kwh/m2/day), abundant geothermal heat, wind, water and bio fuel sources also offer promising opportunities for clean energy in Nigeria.

  • The Government of Nigeria is Supporting clean energy

The government of Nigeria is highly committed to the development of clean energy in the federation. Apart from Nigeria being a signatory to Kyoto Protocol (A treaty that commits state parties to reduce green house gas emission) and the founding member of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), the federal government has also developed in the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC) the Renewable Energy Commission, the Renewable Energy Department as well as the renewable energy master plan. This signifies a readiness of the government to help toward clean energy revolution in the country.

During the National Clean Cooking Scheme (with a purchase of 9.2 billion Naira (about 2.9 million US Dollars) worth of clean cooking stove and Wonder bags for rural women in 2015), the Vice President Namadi Sambo Said: “One of the most important global problems today is environmental degradation. And desertification in Nigeria is one of our major environmental problems. And as a result one of the major causes is this problem of cutting the trees and using the wood as a source of energy for cooking”.

  • The Renewable Energy Private Sector is Growing

There is a growing number of hundreds of domestic and International private organizations participating in Nigeria’s renewable energy industry.

In March 2017, a conference funded by the European Union, German Government and U.S. Governments was held in Nigeria in which local renewable energy project developers met with “better vest”, a crowd funding platform to finance small renewable energy projects developed by local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria.

Charlotte Aubin Kalaidjian, the CEO of Green Wish partners (a Paris based Independent Power producer) said that the company will invest $280 billion to build solar power plants in Nigeria that are expected to start producing electricity in the first quarter of next year (2018). The project will provide power to 2.5 million people with two plants located at southeastern State of Enugu (with 110MW capacity) and two others of 50MW each in the northern states of Kaduna and Jigawa.

The CEO said in an interview in Lagos state:

“We only take risk where solar makes sense, where it is competitive and where there is political support; this government is very committed to developing power and renewables, especially in regions where there is no gas available”.


Climate change is real, and it is increasingly happening everywhere on earth and scientific consensus believed it to be predominantly caused by human activities and its strong overwhelming effects have manifested themselves and are been felt by many and had drawn the attention of many responsible individual, group of people, organizations and governments around the globe to tackle it and have come to the resolution that clean, renewable energy is a better solution.

Clean energy revolution is a collective responsibility for all. Everybody needs to do something that will count to combat climate change for the lives and welfare of those living today and the future generation to come. This is very important because climate change has something called low inertia, which is a cause today, may not strike until decades to come. Climate change in one part of the world may affect the other part. Although much of the anthropogenic GHG that is causing global warming today is emitted by the developed economies, developing nations are at more risk of the effects due to their low coping capabilities according to United Nations.

Energy efficiency (such as home insulation using fluorescent light and skylights rather than incandescent lights and also use of heat pumps) has proved be a cost effective strategy for climate change mitigation or control. E.g. the U.S State of California which implementing energy efficiency measures since 1970’s found that Energy consumption has remained roughly flat per capita while that of national US consumption has doubled.

Improved energy efficiency in building, industrial process and transportation could reduce the world’s energy needs in 2050 by one third according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

More efforts are needed from you reading this, the private sector, the NGOs, and the government for climate change mitigation and renewable energy revolution. The government of Nigeria and those of all other developing countries shall at federal, state and local government levels allocate more funds and budget as well as develop, implement, monitor and evaluate policies on clean energy revolution.

We need effective dissemination of climate change information. According to the Gallup World Poll, the largest survey ever conducted on climate change which covered over 119 countries, more than a third of the world’s adults have never heard of climate change. For some countries such as South Africa, Bangladesh and Nigeria this rises more than two-thirds of the adult’s population. So if you are reading this article right now, kindly help to forward and share it with others via social media (face book, twitter, E.T.C), E-mails, E.T.C. Nelson Mandela said: ‘‘Education is the powerful weapon that we can change the world’’.

Should you need additional information on climate change and related issues do not hesitate to inquire via stanzianemirate@gmail.com. Moreover, the following websites hold important information for you on climate change:

Article by Mubarak Mahmud: July, 2017

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