Renewable energy technologies like solar lanterns, solar panels and biogas digesters offer the prospect of affordable power in remote communities. For the last 30 years, international organisations have been involved in projects to make these technologies available to users in African countries. Mainly this has been done free of charge and has included efforts to build local capacity and reform policy.
But despite these efforts, internationally funded renewable energy projects have often failed after they withdrew their support.
Nigeria’s journey to the Petroleum Industry Act started in 2000 under President Olusegun Obasanjo, who inaugurated an oil and gas sector reform implementation committee. The committee’s report formed the basis of the first Petroleum Industry Bill eight years later. It was submitted to the National Assembly but not passed. Nor was it passed under the next president, Goodluck Jonathan. President Muhammadu Buhari also declined assent to it in 2018 because of some provisions. It was finally passed by the National Assembly on 1 July 2021 and signed into law by Buhari. Omowumi Iledare explains the significance.
Biogas has been used as an energy source for centuries, to warm bathwater or light streetlamps, for example. But it is our slate of 21st-century socioenvironmental challenges that have sparked greater interest in biogas production and technology — especially the conversion of waste into biogas.
Organic waste disposal, a huge problem due to modern society’s soaring consumption patterns, could prove to be both an attractive and low-cost renewable alternative energy source and solution. In fact, biogas systems may potentially meet a variety of energy needs worldwide, while reducing waste streams and providing biofertilizer as a by-product.
outh Africa’s over-reliance on coal-fired power plants places the country among the world’s top carbon emitters and does huge damage to the health of its citizens. The country has also struggled to maintain a stable energy supply since 2007. Power cuts are now a regular feature of South African life.
A developmental priority is therefore a transition from highly centralised energy production that depends on diminishing reserves of fossil fuels towards decentralised production of renewable, clean energy.