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Energy, M-I-NA AMBASSADOR

The forthcoming deployment of the 5 million solar power connections, targeting 25 million households across the country under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), reaffirms Nigeria’s commitment to the global green energy initiative.

“A just transition to net-zero emissions, probably one where gas as a fossil fuel is still supported, especially for those of us in this part of the world, is absolutely important, especially as it will enable us to phase-out more polluting fuels such as coal and diesel”, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo made the submissions yesterday during a meeting with a delegation of the European Union (EU) led by its Executive Vice President, Mr Valdis Dombrovskis, maintaining the advocacy that the international community should preserve financing for gas projects in Nigeria and other developing countries, during the transition to net-zero emission.

Discussions at the meeting held virtually focused on bilateral investment agreements between Nigeria and the EU cutting across diverse areas including technology, intellectual property rights, research and innovation, humanitarian assistance, energy access, and renewable energy.

According to the Vice President, “a point which I think we can talk about is the sort of support that we hope to get from the EU especially with respect to ensuring that we meet our commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Our commitment to energy transition is firm, and we think that for us, it is an area of comparative advantage. So, we are hoping to leverage that. I think that we will again be very happy to work on improving the investment environment to ensure that we are able to work as much as possible with the EU partners.”

Emphasizing the need to leverage opportunities to build a stronger partnership with the EU in the gas sector, the Vice President said Nigeria will explore the caveat in the EU green energy financing instrument to seek better ways of financing for gas projects in the country.

He said: “What we see is a growing trend among development financial institutions to withdraw from fossil fuel investment and recently, the World Bank’s decision to cease funding for upstream oil and gas development. The new restrictions on financing downstream developments appear to be considered by some countries in the West.

 

“We believe that well-intended as some of these actions may be, it is clear to us that they would disregard the importance of gas as a means of urgently addressing energy poverty for us and countries such as ours.”

Prof. Osinbajo recently has been raising the issue of financing of gas projects in Nigeria and other developing countries, advocating for more effective engagements since the campaign for the Net-Zero Emission by 2050 resumed.

At a meeting with the British Member of Parliament and COP26 President-Designate, Mr. Alok Sharma, last month, Prof. Osinbajo restated Nigeria’s support and commitment to the Climate Change agreement but cited the planned restrictions on financing of gas projects in African countries as a potential setback.

Also at the UN Dialogue on Food Systems in February, the Vice President stressed the need for the international community to consider as an option, the use of gas and other more environmentally friendly fuel sources as against what he termed “defunding gas projects” on the basis of gas not being environmentally friendly enough.

The Vice President also referred to the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) a Federal Government’s initiative to address one of the fallouts of climate change, promote sedentary livestock farming and address clashes between herders and farmers.

On his part, the Executive Vice President of the EU Commission, Mr Valdis Dombrovskis spoke on the importance of reviewing investment agreements between Nigeria and the EU, disclosing the commission’s plan to increase its external investment capacities.

On the Vice President’s call for sustained financing of gas investments in the country and beyond, the EU chief said the decision to phase out investments in fossil fuels was in line with the organization’s policy on promoting green energy initiatives.

He however urged authorities in the country to explore the caveat in the financing instruments to seek other ways of attracting investments for projects in the gas sector.

Officials present at the meeting include the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffery Onyeama; Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Amb. Ketil Karlsen; and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Mrs Yewande Sadiku, among others.

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Economy, Government

The Federal Government has extended the Lagos-Ibadan Modernisation Project from its original destination at Ebutte Meta to Lagos Ports. This is to allow for massive freight movement and free up Lagos roads.

The Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi, made the disclosure while briefing newsmen after inspecting the three mega stations and seven minor stations of the newly constructed standard gauge railway in Ibadan on Saturday.

Amaechi was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Magdalene Ajani; Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mallam Musa Al-Hassan and the Managing Director of NRC, Fidet Okhiria.

They commenced the inspection from the mega station at Ebutte Meta before proceeding to the Apapa Port station.

To ascertain the level of work at the Port, the minister and his entourage took a train ride to Apapa Port which had been significantly connected to the standard gauge track.

Inside the port, the Minister frowned at the indiscriminate parking of trucks on the old narrow gauge tracks along the corridor.

According to him, inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail to all the stations is to put finishing touches to the 157km fast rail.

Amaechi said that the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC), the contractor handling the project, had connected rail line with the country’s premier port in Lagos.

“It is not clear when the project is to be commission as the earlier commissioning date of January 2021 was shifted due to the second wave of COVID-19.

“Sometime in January, over 60 workers on the site contracted COVID-19 which stalled the completion of the project.

“At the moment, it is observed that most of the mini stations are still undergoing finishing touches while the cooling systems have been fixed.

“At the Wole Soyinka Station, Abeokuta, another mega station, the cooling system is yet to be fixed as well as other facilities in the interior parts of the station,” Amaechi said.

He, however, said that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring the completion of all train projects and to ensure that the contract bequeaths to Nigerians a train service that is comparable to anywhere in the world.

The Managing Director of  Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria said that the current frequency of the Lagos to Ibadan train service will be increased from once daily to twice daily in two weeks time.

According to him, when it commences operation, the passenger train will stop at Agege railway station and Abeokuta enroute Ibadan and back, instead of the present trend of stopping only at Abeokuta after takeoff from Lagos.

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ICT

The Ministerial Task Force on the NIN-SIM registration held its 4th Review Meeting on Friday, February 26, 2021.  The meeting was chaired by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, FNCS, FBCS, FIIM.

Key stakeholders joined the Honourable Minister at the meeting.  They included the EVC/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), DG/CEO of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), DG/CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).  Others included the NCC Executive Commissioners for Technical Services and Stakeholder Management, MD/CEOs of MTN, Airtel, EMTS (9Mobile), NTEL, Spectranet and SMILE, as well as the COO of Glo.

A number of resolutions were taken at the meeting, including the following:

  1. Approval was given to MNOs for the establishment of dedicated SIM Swap Centres across the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria;
  2. Approval was given for the extension of the tenure of NIN Enrolment Agent Licenses for MNOs from 1 to 5 years in consideration of their satisfactory performance, subject to continuous monitoring. This is a deliberate effort of the Federal Government to simplify the enrolment process for Nigerians and legal residents;

iii. The Technical Committee was mandated to complete the development of a new SIM issuance strategy that cannot be compromised. This will ensure that there is no repeat of the past process that was compromised through pre-registration by some agents; and

  1. A Multi-Sectoral Adhoc Committee was tasked to immediately complete the review of the processes for new SIM activations for legal residents staying in Nigeria for less than 24 months. The membership of the Committee was drawn from NCC, NIMC, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).

Furthermore, MNOs that already have Service Centres in important and critical locations in LGAs, are expected to upgrade these Centres to a level where they can qualify as SIM Swap Centres in order to reduce the challenges associated with the SIM Swap/Replacement process for the citizens. The purpose is to bring SIM Swap Centres closer to Nigerians regardless of their location.

The Minister also tasked the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), working with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and MNOs, to come up with a framework for the establishment of SIM Swap/Replacement Centres in each of the 774 LGAs in the country, beginning with critical and feasible locations.

The EVC of NCC, Prof Danbatta, briefed the meeting on the outcome of the Senate Investigative Hearing on 5G Deployment in Nigeria, which took place on February 25, 2021.  He extolled the Honourable Minister for making an eloquent presentation to dispel fears about the public health and security implications of 5G, as well as making a case for this new technology in the country. All stakeholders agreed on the need for the country to deploy 5G technology.

President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR was briefed on the activities of the Ministerial Task Force. He strongly commended the achievement recorded so far and urged the Minister and other stakeholders to maintain the tempo. 

The Honourable Minister also appreciated Nigerians for their patience and compliance with the Federal Government’s directive on the NIN-SIM registration exercise, which has many benefits to the country and its citizens.  He assured of government’s commitment to continually take decisions aimed at easing the pains of the citizens with regard to issues related to NIN and SIM registration.

Signed:

Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde                                            ​​     

Director, Public Affairs                              

Nigerian Communications Commission    

 

Mr Kayode Adegoke

Head, Corporate Communications,

Nigeria Identify Management Commission

 

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