Nigerian VP: Osinbajo “Climate Justice Must Include Ending Energy Poverty” Especially for Sub-Saharan Africa

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), as well as Nigeria’s gas initiatives, will help transform Nigeria into a gas-based industrialized nation. (Courtesy of pulse.ng, Tolani Alli)

April 29, 2022

Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, over the last year, has repeatedly demanded ending global energy poverty, which is a life and death necessity for the majority of the world’s population. Speaking at the Atlantic Council on April 13, VP Osinbajo challenged the prevailing green-environmental dictates against using fossil fuels to supply energy to energy starved nations. He told his virtual audience, “climate justice must include ending energy poverty .” (Osinbajo seeks justice for Africa.) (Emphasis added)

For sub-Saharan Africa, there is no more vital need to the survival of these African nations, than energy, energy, and more energy. Over 600 million Africans living in sub-Saharan Africa are without access to electricity. Another 300 million use charcoal and firewood to cook, both environmentally harmful. For Africa to end poverty and hunger, nothing is more essential than to have on-grid, plentifully, and accessible energy, with the capability to power an industrialized economy, for which solar and wind are insufficient. Any advocate for Africa, who does not fight for the creation of abundant energy for the continent, does not have Africa’s best interest at heart.

My own estimate is that for African nations to achieve the levels of energy consumption of the advanced sector, a minimum of 1,000 additional gigawatts of electrical power must be created. In his remarks VP Osinbajo stated, “For every Nigerian to consume the Modern Energy Minimum of 1,000 kilowatt hours per year by 2050 would require a 15-fold increase in our national power generation.” To achieve that goal, “Nigeria must add 200 gigawatts of new power capacity by 2060…”

West’s Green Hypocrisy

Writing in Foreign Affairs, August 31, 2021, The Divestment Delusion: Why Banning Fossil Fuel Investments Would Crush Africa, VP Osinbajo, confronted the discriminatory green anti-development “policies directed at African nations.

Hitting at the hypocrisy by developed nations, the Vice President wrote:  

“After decades of profiting from oil and gas, a growing number of wealthy nations have banned or restricted public investment in fossil fuels, including natural gas. Such policies often do not distinguish between different kinds of fuels, nor do they consider the vital role some fuels play in powering the growth of developing economies, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. As development finance institutions try to balance climate concerns against the need to spur equitable development and increase energy security, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union have all taken aggressive steps to limit fossil fuel investments. The World Bank and other multilateral development banks are being urged by some shareholders to do the same. The African Development Bank, for instance, is increasingly unable to support large natural gas projects in the face of European shareholder pressure. Even UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on countries to end all new fossil fuel exploration and production. ”

(Courtesy of Inside Africa-Facebook)

Under the subhead: Little Gain, Much Pain, he wrote:

“Curbing natural gas investments in Africa will do little to limit carbon emissions globally but much to hurt the continent’s economic prospects. Right now, Africa is starved for energy: excluding South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa’s one billion people have the power generation capacity of just 81 gigawatts—far less than the 108-gigawatt capacity of the United Kingdom. Moreover, those one billion people have contributed less than one percent to global cumulative carbon emissions.”

He continued:

But limiting the development of fossil fuel projects and, in particular, natural gas projects would have a profoundly negative impact on Africa. Natural gas doesn’t make sense in every African market. But in many, it is a crucial tool for lifting people out of poverty. It is used not only for power but for industry and fertilizer and for cleaner cooking. Liquified petroleum gas is already replacing huge amounts of hazardous charcoal and kerosene that were most widely used for cooking, saving millions of lives that were previously lost to indoor air pollution. The role of gas as a transition fuel for developing countries, especially in Africa, cannot be overemphasized.

Yet Africa’s progress could be undone by the rich world’s efforts to curb investments in all fossil fuels. Across sub-Saharan Africa, natural gas projects are increasingly imperiled by a lack of development finance.

Gas pipelines and power plants in the most energy-hungry markets need development finance to attract other capital and enable such projects to proceed

 But many more such power plants are needed to deliver electricity to our people, to power our industry and growing cities, and to balance intermittent solar power. A blanket ban on finance for all fossil fuels would jeopardize those objectives.” (Emphasis added)

African Leaders Contest Green Agenda

Gwede Mantashe (Courtesy of bussinesslive.co.za)

Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of South Africa, has echoed VP Osinbajo, in his ddetermination to use South Africa’s abundant energy resources to end energy poverty. On December 9, 2021, Minister Mantashe, issued a powerful statement asserting that  South Africa’s “deserves the opportunity to capitalize on its natural resources.” (Shell: Gas and oil industry in SA under attack).  

He wrote in language more vigorous and iconoclastic than VP Osinbajo:

“Oil and gas exploitation has been carried out for decades across other economies in the World, including for more than 50 years in Norway, more than 80 years in Saudi Arabia and over 100 years in Germany. These economies are thriving today, and they were built on the back of the exploitation of these resources. Africa deserves an equal chance to develop its economies on the strength of her natural resources. 

“Several countries on the African continent have announced their oil and gas finds which present massive opportunities for economic growth, industrialization, and job creation. As these developments unfold, we have noted with interest, the pushback, and objections from environmental lobby groups against the development of these resources.

“I cannot help but ask myself, are these objections meant to ensure the status quo remains in Africa, in general, and South Africa, in particular? That is, the status quo with regards to energy poverty, high unemployment, high debt to GDP ratio at country level and economies that are not growing and, in some cases, jobless economic growth. Could it be possible that this is an extreme pure love for the environment or an unrelenting campaign to ensure that Africa and South Africa do not see the investment inflows they need?”

He concludes:

“South Africa deserves the opportunity to capitalize on its natural resources including oil and gas, as these resources have been proven to be game changers elsewhere. We consider the objections to these developments as apartheid and colonialism of a special type, masqueraded as a great interest for environmental protection. South Africa’s economic development is oppressed in the name of environmental protection when we have environmental framework that ensures that licensing is done with the utmost environmental care founded on Section 24 of our Constitution. We therefore appeal to all objectors to acknowledge this and allow South Africa to exploit its natural resources for the benefit of its citizens.” (Emphasis added)

Presidents Yoweri Museveni-left and Muhammadu Buhari-right (courtesy of dailypost.ng)

President Buhari of Nigeria has also challenged the attempt to keep African nations from utilizing their resources to industrialize their nations for the benefit of their citizens. Read: President Buhari of Nigeria, Demands More and Reliable Energy for Africa from COP26. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has raised similar objections. Read: Solar and Wind Force Poverty on Africa: Africa Needs Reliable Energy-Nuclear-to Power Industrialized Economies

Live With Energy or Die with Green

Will the Western dictated green-reset to shield civilization from climate change end up killing more people than it purports to save? How many lives will perish from the dearth of plentiful and reliable energy, which is required to end poverty and hunger in Africa?

At the highest echelons of the corporate and financial world, in conjunction with Western governments, it has been decided that investments in fossil fuels-hydrocarbons will be halted. Coal, oil, and gas production will be replaced by channeling money into solar and wind renewables, which are both unreliable to supply energy 24/7. Given that it is known that neither solar nor wind are capable of providing sufficient power to drive an industrialized economy,* it should be obvious the intent of these policies: prevent African nations from industrializing. The fact there is not an all-out effort to invest in nuclear energy, especially Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), which will provide safe, reliable power, indicates that there is an intent to keep Africa in energy poverty.

From slavery, through colonialism, and following independence, African nations have been denied what Kwame Nkrumah, and Cheikh Anta-Diop knew was essential for their sovereignty: the right to have industrialized economies.

Without energy dense, and infrastructure dense economies, to include mechanized farming, and robust manufacturing sectors, large portions of African nations will be forced to exist in miserable living conditions, which will lead to higher death rates.

It is criminal to prohibit African nations from using their own natural resources for the development of their economies, without which, hundreds of millions of their citizens will remain in wretched poverty.

*The sun “miraculously” maintains life on our planet, but is not an efficient energy source to perform work, because solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface is too diffuse i.e., has a low energy-flux density. Windmills are not cost efficient when one compares the energy required to construct acres of windmills, to the net energy produced. Both solar and wind are also dependent on weather conditions.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

United Nations Conference: The Lake Chad Basin Should not be ‘Managed’; it Should be ‘Transformed.’

August 19, 2019

United Nations Headquarters, August 5-6, 2019

On August 5-6, I had the opportunity to participate in the “Third International Conference on the Lake Chad Basin Region: SDG Implementation-UN System and Non-State Actors Exploring New ways of Cooperation.” The two-day conference at the United Nations Headquarters was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations, under the guidance of Dr. Ibrahim Umar. The assemblage was first addressed by ambassadors from three of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin; Permanent Representatives from the UN Missions of Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

Lawrence Freeman with Dr. Ibrahim Umar, Nigerian Mission to the United Nations

The convening of this UN session is in response to the worsening living conditions for approximately 30 million Africans living in the Lake Chad Basin, whose livelihood is centered around the shrinking Lake Chad. Today the estimated area of Lake Chad varies from 1200-1300 square kilometers to upwards of 2,000; a 90% contraction from its 1963 level of 25,000 square kilometers.  During the afternoon panel of the first day, the conditions of Lake Chad were addressed by Charles Ichoku, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Howard University, and this author, who is Vice Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

Transforming is Superior to Managing 

Dominating the conference were speakers representing NGOs and international organizations, who accurately depicted the extent of the horrific humanitarian, refugee, and food crises prevailing in the region in detail. Regrettably, there were those who accepted the diminutive size of Lake Chad as unalterable. Some of the participants offered short term solutions and others believed that the recharging of the lake is not an easy or viable option. However, they miss the point; that to comprehensively address the issue of the Lake Chad Basin will require nothing less than the full recharging of Lake Chad. It is only in this way that the humanitarian issues, poverty and underdevelopment can be tackled in the long run. In my presentation I challenged some of the pessimistic thinking in the conference by stating unequivocally: “None of the solutions that have been discussed will work, unless the lake is recharged.” It should be noted that United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has pledged to collaborate with President Buhari of Nigeria, to raise the $50 billion necessary for the recharging of the lake.

Lawrence Freeman addressing the United Nations Conference on the Lake Chad Basin on the first day

My slide presentation demonstrated how the lake can be recharged to its previous level through Transaqua, an inter-basin water transfer project. Transaqua, designed in 1980 by Dr. Vichi of the Italian engineering firm, Bonifica, proposed to build a 2,400-kilometer canal created from 5-8% of the water in the Congo River Basin. The navigable gravity-driven canal would connect to the Chari River, in the Central Africa Republic, which releases its flow into Lake Chad. This bold innovative project is a “win-win” for the twelve nations of the Lake Chad and Congo River Basins, and for all of Africa. Responding to the necessity of recharging the shrinking Lake Chad, the project provides a unique opportunity to create a super economic “development zone” amongst the nations of the two basins. Trade, and commerce would increase by orders of magnitudes, hydroelectric power would be produced, millions of additional hectares would be irrigated, new roads created, new fisheries and manufacturing centers would be built. This author also presented to the audience the conclusions from the three-day International Conference to Save Lake Chad, held in Abuja Nigeria-February 26-28, 2018, at which the Heads of State from the nations of the Lake Chad Basin, endorsed Transaqua as the preferred method to expand the lake.

Both before and after my presentation numerous presenters spoke out against “big projects” and “diverting water” as if the Africans suffering in the region want the lake to remain at 10% of its previous level. International intervention and technology to alleviate the conditions in the basin were also eschewed in favor of local projects and listening to the so called “voice of the people.” Manage! Manage the existing deplorable conditions; don’t even dare think of changing-improving was echoed repeatedly.

On the second day, this author was compelled to speak out against the condescending attitude that assumes Africans do not want to enjoy the same standard of living as all the speakers from the US and Europe. I asked, if they thought that those people struggling for daily survival within the Lake Chad Basin wouldn’t desire clean running water, and having access to 1,500 watts of electricity 24 hours a day all year?

 

A slide presented by Mr. Freeman at the UN conference displaying the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project

Underlying Cultural Beliefs About Mankind

Approximately five to six thousand years ago Lake Chad was a mega lake comprising 1,000,000 square kilometers. There are reports that several hundred years ago, Lake Chad almost disappeared. The lake sits on top of three aquifers and are adjacent to the gigantic Nubian Sandstone Aquifer.  Clearly the growth and shrinkage of the lake over millennia predates so called anthropomorphic caused climate change. Lake Chad is fed by river systems from Nigeria and Cameroon, the most significant contributor being the Chari River from the Central African Republic. With the southern movement of the Tropical Conversion Zone there is less rainfall thus reducing the flow of water into the lake. The closest source of water to refill and maintain Lake Chad is the super moist Congo River Basin, hundreds of kilometers south. A feasibility study should confirm the Transaqua hypothesis for the potential of a continuous flow of water into Lake Chad, resulting in transforming the entire region.

The failure to test and analyze the Transaqua proposal for almost four decades, even though many people were concerned about the worsening conditions resulting from the shrinking lake, leads us to examine a deeper cultural problem.

Over the last half century, Western societies have become victims of cultural pessimism. Our cultural paradigm has shifted away from one of optimism and confidence in human’s ability to discover new scientific principles that lead to technological revolutions for the betterment of humanity. In the years following the historic 1969 landing of humans on the Moon, inspired by the leadership of President John Kennedy, our culture has been dramatically altered for the worse. The previously discredited Malthusian dogma reasserted itself, with false assertions that if population growth was not stopped the planet would run out of resources. This was accompanied with hysterical calls for population reduction. Over time, as our culture became more decadent, the very progress of our society was assailed with attacks on science, technology, and industrialization.  In this new perverted ideology humankind, (made in the image of the Creator) became the devil-the source of evil itself in the world.

Ambassador Tijjani Muhammad Bande speaking at a reception hosted by the UN Nigerian Mission for the Lake Chad Basin conference

Contrary to declarations  that humans are destroying the environment, there is no such adversarial relationship. The physical universe is organized on the principle of continuous development and is predisposed to respond positively to the intervention of human creativity. Humankind is not just a caretaker or a steward. Humanity was created to interact with the universe for unending growth. Reflect on the biblical injunction in Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Yes, we can and must transform the Lake Chad Basin. We can end suffering, hunger, and poverty in that region, and across the African continent. That is what humankind was created to accomplish. Let us not reject our fundamental human essence: to willfully transform our planet (the universe) for the perpetuation of our uniquely creative species.

 

Distributed at the UN conference reported on above: UN Statement on Transaqua for Lake Chad

Distributed at the Abuja, Nigeria conference 2/26-28/2018:  Now Is the Time to Think Big and In the Future