Science & Tech panacea to strengthening Nigeria’s economic base – Onu

By Ado Hassan, Sokoto

The Minister for Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu has said that for Nigeria to make meaningful progress in nation development, it must embrace science, technology and innovation to strengthen its economic base.

Similarly, the Minister noted that solar energy and other renewable energy technologies were the enablers of energy transition being currently embraced globally to mitigate global warming.

” I therefore , challenge all the solar energy experts and investors in solar energy technologies to take the energy demand- supply gap in the country as an opportunity for innovative deployment of solar energy to bridge the gap .”

Onu made the remark Monday in Sokoto at the 38th National Solar Energy Society of Nigeria’s Forum organised by the Solar Energy Society of Nigeria.

The 3-day 2020 Forum had as its theme: “Solar Energy in Post Covid-19 Economy”.

According to him, Nigeria must cause deliberate action towards the direction of strengthening it’s capacity through committed efforts at developing a sustainable solar driven base for economic balance.

” It is the only sure way to measure up our energy demand for productivity across actors of economy”, he pointed out.

He noted that Covid- 19 pandemic has ravaged the nation and world at large health wise with negative impact on Nigeria’s economy which largely depends on crude earnings.

The Minister who chaired the Forum also observed that no nation has developed without deliberately putting science, technology and innovation in its rightful place, adding that ” Nigeria cannot be an exception.”

He however explained that development in energy , medicine, agriculture , transport , and other aspects for national growth were science, technology and innovation driven.

” It will interest Nigerians to know that the for the very first time in the history of the country that President Muhammadu Buhari led government through the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology emphasis is placed on ST&I”, he pointed out.

Onu , represented by the Director General , Energy Commission of Nigeria, Mr. E. J .Bala described the Forum’s deliberate efforts as inspiring for experts to take stock of opportunities that solar energy offers in revamping Nigeria’s current economy and post Covid-19 era, noting that the country’s 2020 sustainable economic plan were tailored at mitigating the effect of the novel pandemic, hence recognised the role of solar energy in driving it to reality.

” By doing so, our vision 30:30:30 and indeed our National Determined Contributions would be met and the solar energy component of the 2020 plan is intended to support 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation of
soar home systems and mini-grids”, he pointed out.

The Special Guest of Honour and Kebbi state Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu while noting that energy remains an important index driving the socio-economic and technological development of modern society, Nigeria needed to more to benefit from its solar energy abundance” we have to stimulate our abilities by providing the basic components . Though, Nigeria has inadequate energy availablity.

Bagudu said the country has to boost its commitment through real study of how working solar energy scientists can be protected and rewarded as motivation for upcoming ones, even as he pointed out that the world’s economy is largely piloted by science and technology which nation’s look up to as way out and effective means of medication to cure Covid-19 pandemic.

” It is evidently clear that the pandemic has exposed how interdependence of countries are shaped by events with prices of crude sloping to negative territories globally and despite our crude abundance, yet we import refined petrol”, he lamented.

The governor however, stressed the urgent need to move faster in terms of enacting laws that would support science and technology related components to meet global sophistication and competitiveness.

” We don’t have to waste time and efforts . We always want the world to wait for us which is not possible . It can’t happen in an era that hydrocarbon energy source is fast facing globally ban”, he stressed.

He said Nigeria was endowed with abundant renewable energy sources with an annual solar incident average of 1,831.06 KWh with a total land area of 923,768 km2.

Other sources of energy Bagudu said include: Biomass, Hydropower, Wind and Geothermal which were veritable sources that could be effectively harnessed and utilised to advance the course of developing the country’s economy .

Accordingly, the governor also noted that the utilisation proportion of renewable energy sources from the R2020-GSR report(REN21-2020) revealed that there has been increase in capacity installations and investment spreading to all corners of the world which provided access to electricity and clean cooking services.

He commended President Buhari for boldly revitalising critical aspects of the economy especially the energy and power sectors, hitherto, his unprecedented determination to diversify the Nigeria economy away from oil and gas.

President of SESON, Professor I.J. Dioha said with strong energy law, solar energy has the capacity and impact to address and mitigate challenges in energy demand and supply.

According to him ” there should be energy law with sustainable capacity to strengthen Nigeria’s drive for sufficiency across its sectors without which we are going no where”, Dioha called.

The President further commended the efforts of federal government towards embracing realities by facing and addressing the challenges in the energy sector of the economy.

In his goodwill message, Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’d Abubakar represented by the Wazirin Sokoto, Professor Sambo Wali Junaidu described energy as an important component and element to human life and environmental protection .

Abubakar who was royal father of the day at the Forum called on the federal government to take the bull by the horn to provide adequate funding in order to strengthen the energy sector .

” We need energy across the country. I will like UDUS in collaboration with SESON to come up with practical achievements and more solutions in black and white to assist and enable federal government extend its support for renewable energy sufficiency.”

Earlier in his address , Vice Chancellor of the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Professor Lawal Suleiman Bilbis noted that solar energy consumption rate was an important indicator for the development of a nation’s economy.

He said solar energy powers numerous economic aspects as health,water supply, communication among others thus ” renewable energy is the answer today in Nigeria as a dependable and reliable source of power that can be accessed free and cheap .

Bilbis however, decried the lack of regulating hydrocarbon which he noted was doing more harm than good to human and environmental health and animals.

Meanwhile , Governors Atiku Bagudu, Aminu Tambuwal and Bello Mutawallen Maradun were among personalities honoured with SESON fellowship awards and appointed Advocates of renewable energy.

Others were Ministers of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, his Power counterpart, Saleh Mamman, Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, Executive Secretary of TETFund and Engineer Garba Haruna , MD , KEDCO, Kaduna while many others were honoured with fellowship award.

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