By Gladys Nweke
The Environmental Rights Action//Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has tasked youths and government in the Niger Delta region to embrace renewable energy technologies.
Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, Dr Godwin Ojo, speaking in Port Harcourt at the 2019 Environmental camp meeting organised for 120 youths drawn from the core Niger Delta States, said the country was at risk of energy colonialism if renewable technologies remained the exclusive reserve for industrialized nations.
Ojo challenged the youths to see environmental protection as their responsibility, adding that they must resist the forms of energy colonialism playing out in Nigeria.
He explained that the environmental camp meeting provides an opportunity for learning and networking and strategies promoting youth empowerment, especially in the area of moving Nigeria form oil and gas dependence to being the hub of Africa in renewable energy development in the short term.
According to him, “Young people should have a problem solving mentality to poverty and climate change as opportunities to generate ideas, conduct advocacy, creation of jobs, renewable energy solutions in mini-grids and off-grid systems for rural electrification, solid waste management that emphasizes reuse, reduce and recycle waste in all our productive and consumptive activities.
“The youths suffer the loss of livelihoods, disorientation, fear of a bleak future and the desolation wrought by extractive activities.
“This is equally the narrative that Nigeria’s foot-dragging to leapfrog to just energy built on energy democracy and community ownership through the production and supply as end user”.
The ERA boss noted that some of the activities designed to empower the youths included; training in the fabrication of energy saving stoves, solar gadgets installation, and repairs, solar drier tent project for processing tomatoes, pepper, fish and vegetables as alternative income generation in Bodo City, Rivers State.
Also speaking, Associate Professor in the University of Port Harcourt, Fidelis Allen, regretted that the government has not done enough to encourage the interest and Investment in local manufacturing of renewable energy gadgets.
Allen while delivering a lecture titled ‘Climate Change and the Need for Transition from Fossil fuels to Renewable Energy’ commended ERA for putting up the event, but however, explained that the switch to renewable energy cannot be automatic but by an incremental approach.
He further stated that rural areas can be the cornerstone of an energy revolution in the country and called for equity and ambition within and around the renewable energy discussion, adding that these could come by way of finance, support sustained interest and drive.