FG plans to phase out candle and kerosene lamp
Since independence, Nigeria has been making concerted efforts to make household energy available to millions of the people. This effort has, however, recorded very little success.
Currently, the average Nigerian enjoys few hours of electricity supply from the national grid, daily, leaving them with no choice but to source for alternative means of generating their own power. Meanwhile, firewood has become the thriving source of energy to millions of Nigerians who cannot rely on the national grid. Despite its harmful nature to humans and the environment, it remained the best alternative to many homes, especially in the rural communities.
In the interest of promoting a more secure, economically and environmental responsible energy future in the country, renewable energy which is in line with global practices has been adopted as an alternative source of energy over the traditional dirty fuel sources.
Since the launch of the renewable energy programme in Nigeria in February 2012 the Ministry of Environment has been in the forefront of effort to sustain it but it is yet to get the legislation to enable the programme assume the status of an agency.
In a statement released by the Federal Ministry of Environment at the weekend, the Minister of Environment, Laurentia Mallam, said that the ministry is planning to phase out the use of candles and kerosene lamps across the country in the next twelve months, and replace them with clean solar energy lamps that are environmentally friendly.
According to the statement, she made the remark in Abuja while receiving a senior delegation of Total Group led by its Vice President, Allen Schapeaux. The Total Group is introducing the new solar energy lamp technology into Nigeria.
Mallam said she is deeply concerned about the environmental hazards caused by the use of candles and kerosene lanterns, which, she added, sometimes lead to avoidable deaths.
She also explained that the switch over from the use of candles and kerosene lanterns will crash the price of kerosene and possibly eliminate the use of candles in Nigeria, thereby improve the position of the country on the list of ozone friendly nations in line with the Transformation Agenda of the President Jonathan.
Mallam noted that apart from the environmental benefits of the product, it will go a long way in solving some social, financial and economic challenges associated with the use of kerosene and candles. She revealed her determination to make Nigeria a candle – free nation.
The minister also promised a strong collaboration between the Ministry of Environment and Total Group to ensure that the new solar energy lamp technology which Total is introducing into Nigeria is rapidly distributed at affordable price to the rural poor.
While commending Total Group for its efforts at manufacturing a durable, cost-friendly, smoke-free, clean and renewable energy lamp that will replace the candle and significantly reduce the use of kerosene in the country, she promised to work with her counterparts in the ministries of trade and investment, finance, health as well as education to ensure that the Clean Energy Lamp Project is a huge success in Nigeria.
Schapeaux told the minister that Total intends to start the sale of the clean energy solar lamps in Nigeria for twelve months and, thereafter, establish a plant for its production in the country to serve the entire West Africa.
He urged the minister to promote the campaign for clean energy, adding that the solar lamps offered positive actions against climate change.
The solar energy lamp has successfully been introduced in Kenya, Indonesia and Pakistan
For Magnus Ibe, an applicant, the introduction of renewable energy is a laudable project, noting, however, that it could be expensive. “Energy cooking stove or solar lamps that can be powered by natural means is impressive but it is quite expensive for so many Nigerians to afford. But if the government wants to make it available and affordable, it can.”
He added that the possibility of phasing out candle and kerosene in the country within the stipulated period of twelve months is not realisable.
Eunice Agbo, a civil servant believes that it is possible to phase candle and kerosene lamps. She said: “I think it is already getting phased away with the advent of rechargeable lamps, so government needs to intensify its action by taking its promises seriously and implement all the proposed policies that will better the lives of people.”
She said that it is difficult to see people still using candles or kerosene lamps in, advising that the project should be concentrated in the rural areas.
The introduction of solar lightning system for homes and cooking is still a mirage to so many Nigerians who are yet to have access to it. The clean cook stove that was adopted under the Renewable Energy programme of the Federal Ministry of Environment tagged Rural Women Energy Security (RUWES) was said to be targeted at under- served rural women with the aim of ensuring affordable and sustainable clean energy access to the rural poor as stated by the National Coordinator of Renewable Energy Programme in Nigeria, Engr. Bahijjahtu Hadiza Abubakar, but how many women in rural areas can afford it?
During the launch of RUWES, it could be recalled that the then Supervising Minister of Environment, Arc. Darius Ishaku explained that the lightning component of RUWES has a goal of ensuring affordable and sustainable clean energy access to the rural poor and reduce black carbon emission by phasing out single-wick kerosene lightning and oily lamp through the introduction of small off grid lightning systems that use light emitting diodes (LEDS); and provision of household stand- alone solar solutions.
Meanwhile, the recent report on the price of clean cook stove that will be imported from Germany by Kaduna State government is N15, 000 but it will be giving to rural women at a subsidised rate of N7,500.
Maryam Giwa, a housewife, said it is not affordable for an average Nigerian woman to buy the clean cook stove at that price.
She observed: “I cannot buy a stove at that price because it is expensive. Besides, I need to see it at work and be sure it will serve me better than what I am using now, it will be difficult to use such amount on what you only hear of its worth and not tried.”
However, the RUWES project, as good as it is, needs to be made affordable and available to the people, especially the rural poor.