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Nigeria At 52: Creating Employment Through Solar Energy

President Goodluck Jonathan

The growing unemployment burden in Nigeria is a serious national concern as statistics show that about 21million Nigerians are unemployed. MOSES JOHN, in this piece, examines NDE’s effort to use solar energy to boost employment generation in the country.

According to the Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale, about 20.8 milliom Nigerians are unemployed, which represents about 23.9 percent of the population. However, the higher the rate of the unemployed in a nation, the more likely crisis can be stirred if nothing is done urgently to address this situation.

However, addressing this issue, is necessary as it is has become a serious problem, due to the epileptic supply or outright non-availability of the power needed to power businesses  that provide employment.  The availability and reliability of electricity in Nigeria has always been a vexed issue because the country, with an estimated population of more than 160 million and a growth rate of more than 3.2 per cent, does not enjoy steady power supply.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and it belongs to the group of countries with the lowest electricity consumption per capita on the continent. Considering the fact that energy is an essential ingredient for socio-economic development and economic growth, it has been a clog in the wheel of job creation in the country.

In finding a lasting solution to these pandemic, the Director-General of the Nigeria Directorate of Employment (NDE), Mallam Abubakar Mohammed, who was speaking during the graduation/disbursement ceremony of solar energy system training scheme of the directorate in Ilorin, Kwara State and Akure, Ondo State, said the NDE had been  involved in environmental scanning to see how to fight against unemployment over the years.

He said one of the steps taken was the training of youths in renewable energy, specifically solar energy system, due to the energy crisis confronting Nigeria as a nation.

“Renewable energy refers to energy sources like solar, hydro, wind, biomass and geothermal. This energy source is very attractive because, it is non-depletable inexhaustible, and available on periodic or cyclic basis.

“Energy service is the desired and useful  in products, process or indeed services that result from the use of energy, such as for lighting, provision of air-conditioning, indoor climate, refrigerator storage, transportation and appropriate temperature for cooking,” he said.

According to the DG, who was represented at the occasion by the director small scale enterprise, Mr. Kunle Obayan, the energy chain to deliver these cited services begins with the collection or extraction of primary energy, which is then converted into energy carriers suitable for various end users.

He said although Nigeria needs adequate supply of energy to drive its economy and power its domestic, economic, technological and social sectors, it has however been difficult to meet the energy needs of the citizenry by successive governments.

“Nigeria is blessed with a variety of energy sources in abundance, both fossil energy, such as crude oil, natural gas and coal, and renewable energy resources like solar, wind, biomass, biogas, etc. Nigeria’s oil reserve is predicted to be exhausted before the next 50 years, thus it is imperative to pay more attention to renewable energy sources.

“The above informed the decision of the management to approve the training in renewable energy such as solar, not only because of the inherent advantages it has over other sources of energy, but because of the employment potential.

“We are encouraged that this source of energy is capable of generating employment in geometrical proportions, in the design, harvesting, installation and maintenance”.

The NDE boss also disclosed that the directorate had produced 950 technicians in 19 states of the federation, adding  50 were resettled in Ilorin, Kwara  State out of the 100 unemployed youths who were trained while another 50 were resettled in Akure, Ondo State, out of the 61 persons trained.

According to Mohammed, “it is a known fact that over 70 percent of Nigerias are living in the rural areas, a larger percentage of which have no access to national grid-supplied electricity; the high cost of grid extension to such areas and widespread of rural communities, all these combine to make rural electrification by means of renewable energy attractive”.

The NDE helmsman urged the beneficiaries to put in their best to ensure success in the programme, just as he advised them to be mindful of some obstacles they might face in forging ahead with the option. He listed them to include high cost of deployment, low efficiency and peculiar weather, low level of public awareness concerning the advantage of this source of energy, and general absence of comprehensive national energy policy.

He also appealed to governments at all levels to patronise this crop of professionals who have been certified competent to undertake maintenance of existing installations, deploy and install new solar system, especially  in the rural areas.

“As renewable energy technology applications in the developing countries are attracting increased interest and financial support from the donor community, it is recommended that the government of Nigeria develop financial instruments that specifically target renewable energy technologies and stimulate market to attract investments.

“There is also the need for deliberate collaboration between various governments and the NDE for definite capacity  building both at the institutional and personnel levels for acquiring technical, organizational and managerial skills required for increased development of renewable energy,” he said

According to him, the NDE was  willing to work closely with the state governments to tackle unemployment in the land.
He appealed  to all unemployed youth to take advantage of the various job generating efforts of the directorate at the various skills acquisition centres, to acquire new skills and become self-sufficient.

From: Leadership