The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has outlined his country’s ambitious targets to develop 250 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy capacity by 2060, as part of the country’s Energy Transition Plan (ETP).
Delivering a lecture at University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Africana Studies in Philadelphia, at an event on “Energy Transition In Africa”, Osinbajo outlined several pathways for a climate-positive growth for Nigeria and Africa.
The Vice President of Nigeria said beyond climate justice, there lies a real opportunity for Africa where the continent pursues a paradigm of a carbon-negative path to middle-income status and beyond.
“With its abundant reserves of renewable energy and raw materials, Africa can become a hugely competitive green manufacturing and energy hub for the world that could also accelerate the greening of global industry,” said Osinbajo.
The Vice President of Nigeria stressed that Africa’s own growth and development objectives are not being seriously accommodated in the global Energy Transition conversations. He emphasised on the need for conversations about Africa’s energy transition to evolve, and include more issues beyond adaptation and loss and damage compensation, and include industrialisation.
“For example, by on-shore processing of 110 million tons of bauxite to aluminium, currently exported as raw bauxite from Africa to Europe and Asia, using renewable energy, between 1.3 to 1.5 gigatons of CO2e emissions can be avoided annually. Same as processing lithium within the mining locality,” Osinbajo said.
Osinbajo also highlighted the progress being made in Nigeria and Zimbabwe in terms of Africa’s contribution to the energy transition efforts through industrialisation. In Nigeria, the country is currently building a lithium processing factory in Kaduna. Zimbabwe, in December 2022 also introduced its policy on local processing of lithium.
Turning Africa into a green industrial powerhouse
In addition to supplying processed lithium, the Vice President of Nigeria Africa also remarked on how Africa can use its renewable energy potential to produce green hydrogen for the world markets.
Titled “fuel of the future” , green hydrogen is being viewed by experts as the key to the world’s decarbonisation and Net-Zero targets, with its potential to decarbonise harder-to-electrify industries like heavy transport, mining, maritime, aviation, steel, cement production and many others.
“Africa has the technical potential to produce 21 billion tonnes worth of hydrogen annually, as compared to Europe’s potential at 0.67 billion tonnes. And as green hydrogen costs fall, African manufacturing locations may become more competitive in a range of related value chains, for example, for ammonia, fertilizer and eFuels.”
“Thus, the paradox of an energy-poor continent becoming the green industrial powerhouse of the world is easily resolvable and it must be.”
“Energy poverty can only be resolved if there is a significant investment in renewable energy. That can only happen if we create the energy-intense anchor demand that makes the investment in additional renewable energy bankable. Therefore, it is not which comes first – renewable energy generation capacity or industrial deployment, both must be developed concurrently,” Osinbajo said.