Nigeria’s poor and vulnerable whose main source of cooking fuel is kerosene are going through worse times as the price of kerosene rose by a whooping 163 percent year-on-year to N1,153.40 per liter in January 2023. On a month-on-month basis, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the average retail price of kerosene, which was paid by consumers in January 2023, increased by 4.42 percent when compared to the previous month. For other fuels, the NBS report revealed that the average retail price of diesel that was paid by consumers in January 2023 was N828.82 per liter. This is an increase of 187.69 percent from N288.09 per liter that was recorded in the corresponding month of the previous year. On a month-on-month basis, it increased by 1.34 percent from N817.86 per liter reported in December 2022.
NBS also noted that the average retail price that was paid by consumers for petrol, also known as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), for January 2023 was N257.12. This indicates a 54.52 percent increase when compared to the value recorded in January 2022, which was N166.40. Many Nigerians, especially those who are living in the rural and semi-urban areas and who depended on kerosene for cooking, have now resorted to using firewood as cooking fuel since the rise in the price of kerosene. According to estimates by the Federal Government, firewood smoke kills at least 90,000 people in Nigeria every year, mainly women and children. Therefore, it can be said that the government’s clean cooking policy to help Nigerians reduce its greenhouse gas emissions has largely failed.
FG’s plan to phase out kerosene may happen faster.
Over two years ago, the Federal Government declared the “Decade of Gas,” which in part seeks to encourage greater penetration of cleaner fuels, such as liquified petroleum gas (LPG) known as cooking gas. In fact, the government expected that there would have been total gas penetration in the country by 2030. However, authorities say that its success remains at a measly five percent till date. In other words, while there has been a widespread of the use of cooking gas in many areas in Nigeria, only five percent of the population use it. The others resort to other means, including firewood, charcoal and kerosene.
With the enormous increase in the price of kerosene, the Federal Government’s plan to phase out the product by 2023 may happen faster. This is not because there would have been success in the gas penetration campaign but because the price of kerosene is likely to further rise such that poor and vulnerable Nigerians would not be able to afford it. Thus, less people would use it as a source of cooking fuel, but the same people would switch to a more affordable and more convenient option, such as cooking with firewood.
Nigeria plans to achieve net-zero by 2060 with its energy plan.
In August 2022, the Federal Government announced its plan to achieve the twin objective of universal access to energy by 2030 and a carbon-neutral energy system by 2060. The latter is known as net-zero. President Muhammadu Buhari had announced this at the launching of its Energy Transition Plan that month. It was part of the energy plan to phase out kerosene consumption in order to achieve a cleaner energy system in the country. The reason for this plan is that long-term greenhouse emissions have resulted in hotter temperatures, more severe rainstorms, increased drought and food security issues.
Net-zero simply refers to the target of completely cancelling out the amount of greenhouse gases which are produced by human activity. To achieve this, carbon emissions (such as the ones from firewood) have to be reduced and methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere have to be implemented. Regardless of mainstream thoughts and assumptions, people still cook using firewood especially in the rural areas. Experts have said that this is affecting everyone on the planet drastically.
Can Nigeria achieve net-zero with its current situation?
According to the United Nations, more than 50 percent of Nigerian communities still use firewood for cooking despite the risks it poses to human health. This includes rural and suburban areas as well as urban areas where the residents use firewood to save on costs. Also, one has to consider the amount of greenhouse emissions in the Niger Delta region. Nigeria’s main source of foreign exchange is the sale of crude oil. The mining and extraction of crude in the region contribute immensely to the pollution of the atmosphere. Can the government afford to stop these activities?