Power for All: Campaign to end people’s use of kerosene in Nigeria gains steam

A new push to help communities in Nigeria’s north central and south eastern states move quickly away from using inefficient lighting sources such as kerosene lamps, and instead transition to clean, distributed lighting solutions, has gained some encouraging momentum, global advocacy framework for distributed renewable energy (DRE), Power for All on Friday disclosed.

Coming from workshops in Lokoja, Kogi State and Enugu, Enugu State, both serving as focal points for the north central and south eastern regions of Nigeria, Power for All Nigerian office stated that its campaign to push out dirty lighting sources in homes in the regions got massive support, indicating the willingness of over 300 policymakers, faith-based institutions, civil society organizations and trade associations who were in attendance in both regions to support it.

Signed by its Nigerian office Communications Lead, Mr. Mark Amaza, Power for All, said in a statement that DRE solutions which range from pico-solar solutions and stand-alone solar systems (SHS) to mini-grids and mobile solar farms, have the advantage of being readily available, affordable, and immediately deployable in homes of people in these regions.

It explained that this allows energy access to be delivered to consumers within a short period versus the years it could take to build a traditional centralized fossil fuel grid power system.

According to it, DRE solutions are important tools for Nigeria to better exploit the full range of its renewable energy resources, especially by delivering energy services to last-mile communities trapped in energy poverty.

The statement quoted its Country Manager, Ify Malo, to have said that a lot of people in Nigeria are forced to rely on dirty energy sources because they have limited or no-existent access to grid power, and that Power for All’s thoughts around the campaign are that DRE provides these people the fastest  and most efficient ways to end energy poverty.

“Energy poverty forces people to resort to inefficient forms of energy and lighting through fossil fuels such as kerosene which comes with a lot of costs: financial, health, safety and environmental costs. As a global campaign, Power for All believes that the fastest way to achieve universal access to clean, modern energy is through the acceleration of DRE which eliminates these costs,” said Malo in the statement.

The statement equally noted that as a result of energy poverty, millions of Nigerians use inefficient fossil-fuel based lighting such as kerosene lamps and batteries which have huge direct and indirect costs. It added that around 17 per cent of Nigeria’s population still use kerosene lamps to light up their homes.

Providing some data on the country’s electrification rate, it said: “Nigeria’s current electrification rate stands at 45 per cent nationally, while in the north central region it is 57 per cent, and 63 per cent in the south east region. The target of Nigeria’s federal government is to achieve an electrification rate of 75 per cent nationally by the year 2020.”

It explained that the workshops were part of the ‘Reducing Black Carbon Emissions by Transitioning to Clean and Sustainable Lighting Project’, which focuses on phasing out kerosene lamps in Nigeria, and promoting a market transition to DRE and energy-efficient lighting products.

According to the statement, the project is funded by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), as part of CCAC’s Household Initiative Framework.

As part of the project, Power for All said it conducted a study on the state of kerosene lighting in Nigeria, encompassing the financial costs, health and safety risks of kerosene use, environmental impacts of kerosene use, the benefits of switching to solar lighting and how best to achieve the switch.

It noted that its findings were shared with participants at the workshops who are potential key stakeholders in achieving the transition through policy formulation, advocacy and market participation, and that it found that the use of kerosene lighting increases the risk of tuberculosis by nine times and cataracts twice.

Nigeria, it said can also save about $1.4 billion yearly by doing away with kerosene and a transitioning to clean, modern lighting sources.

Stakeholders’ respond

The statement also had the responses of stakeholders who participated in the workshops. It quoted Enehe Dorcas, Head of the Climate Change Department in Kogi State’s environment ministry to have said: “The Kogi State government has been grappling with how to protect the environment while at the same time meeting the energy needs of the people.

“We are excited about the potential of DRE solutions and are looking to partner with Power for All and all other stakeholders to achieve solutions,” Enehe added.

Similarly, Sam Enejoh, Vice-President of the Kogi State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KOCCIMA), said: “The Chamber of Commerce and Industry is excited about the business opportunities that DRE presents in transitioning from inefficient lighting to clean, modern lighting and will mobilize its members to take advantage of it while providing efficient lighting and electricity for everyone within the state and even beyond its borders.”

It equally quoted Uche Aniche, the founder of #StartupSouth, a framework that focuses on attracting investment for startups in the south east and south south regions, to have said: “It is a great project that affects everyone across the whole spectrum of the society. It also presents opportunities for entrepreneurs.”

From faith based stakeholders, the statement quoted, Imam Khalid Danjuma of Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), Kogi State Chapter, to have said: “As the umbrella organization for all Muslim bodies, we intend to use what we have learnt from these workshops and sensitize our members on the dangers of using kerosene for lighting, and encourage them to transit to using clean lighting sources.”

Additionally, Chioma Ononyaba, Program Manager of Justice, Development and Peace Caritas (JDPC), a Catholic organization said: “These workshops will enable the Catholic Church to sensitize its members and communities it is working in on the dangers of kerosene lighting and how to end power shortages through these solutions.”