The Sudden Love for Biofuels in the Nigerian Government!
The response from a colleague in IUCN-SEAPRISE group after sharing my opinion on the recent deal between the Nigerian government and Global Biofuels, I realised that several deals on Biofuels initiated by some states and federal agencies exist. This definitely was a surprise to me and also raised my fears on the vulnerability of Biofuels to dangerous capitalists and fraudsters in the Nigerian government [both federal and state].
Some of the deals include:
- Nigerian Export-Import Bank giving $695 million to five companies investing in renewable, $12million for Jatropha project and $56 million for a sorghum ethanol project
- Dangote Group’s $7.7Billion investment in River Energy City, home of budding $2Billion fertilizer and ethanol plant project
- Global Biofuels $91 million investment on ethanol plants across the West Africa region with the expectation of 72million litres of ethanol, land-use of 65,000ha in Nigeria and 32,500ha in neighbouring countries
One thing that was clear to me from all these signed deals is that these projects will strongly depend on Nigeria’s agricultural sector which means there are potentials for strong competition on agricultural land use for food crops and agricultural land use for biofuel crops.
Biofuel especially ethanol is fast becoming an important commodity to some nations, in some nations, ethanol already compliments some crude oil extract as an energy source while it has become a strong competition as a viable energy source that has lead to the decline in the demand of pms and diesel in other nations.
This new commodity also has its many controversies considering the energy consumed by the process itself, the increasing commercial value and the need to source it from the very limited agricultural resources that also feeds the ever increasing world’s human population. Some African nations are already victims of the negative effects of growing biofuel crops which includes land-grabs and the exploitation of local farmers.
With my relatively short experience in environmentalism, I can assert that Nigeria has all the characteristics of a nation that is highly vulnerable to fraud and exploitation in the process of building a biofuel industry, and at this point we cannot underestimate the dangers of not coordinating the investments and the development of our biofuel industry.
Fine, the fact that the Nigerian leadership is gradually driving the nation towards renewable gladdens my heart, but the volume and the lack of coordination in these potential major biofuel projects is something very confusing and saddening too.
Some Nigerians are already struggling with the problems of food insecurity while the rural farmers’ productivity is on the decline due to the impacts of climate change. It’s sad enough that the Nigerian leadership is largely insensitive to the looming problem of food insecurity, this new unchecked interests in biofuels may be disastrous.