It is no longer news that the international oil price has fallen below 30 dollars per barrel, the topical issue on the front burner is, “Where does Nigeria economy go from here?”
Over the years Nigeria has built an economy that is largely dependent on oil, but seeing the effect of global economic meltdown as a result of the fall in the oil price, one wonders what becomes of Nigeria in years to come especially in terms of its economic sustenance.
Imagine what becomes of our national life both in short and long term if Nigeria continues to build its economy around the international oil market.
Nigeria will be heading the direction of disaster if the leaders fail to do something drastic about this ugly trend.
Some scholars and commentators have advocated the idea of diversification of the economy, while others have promoted the idea of going back to Agriculture which to some extent is a noble one, but Agriculture alone cannot sustain Nigeria’s economy, there should be a place for a sustainable domestic energy market. Instead of looking for foreign market to buy Nigeria’s oil product which is no longer as viable as before due to the fall in the global oil price or waiting for some external factors which we do not have control over, we should be thinking of building a long term economy that is primarily dependent on the local market.
Statistics have shown that Nigeria’s proven Gas reserves stands at 187 Trillion Cubic Feet, while unproven ones stand at 600 Trillion Cubic Feet which make Nigeria rank 7th among Gas producing nations.
Theoretically, we can actually deduce from the data above that Nigeria is a gas nation in terms of production, but consumption-wise, the opposite is the case.
A Nigerian adage says, “You cannot be in the river and allow soap to enter your eyes”, but the reverse seems to be Nigeria’s case at the moment. We are rich in terms of gas production but poor in terms of gas consumption.
As at the year 2014, Nigeria’s Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) consumption stands at 350,000 metric tons which implies that Nigeria’s annual LP Gas consumption per capita is about 2.0 kg which is ridiculous when compared to other nations whose gas production potential does not match that of Nigeria.
From Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited perspective, Nigeria produces over 3.2million metric tons of LP Gas annually, earmarks about 850,000 metric tons for domestic consumption but it’s appalling that as at the year 2014, Nigeria’s LP Gas consumption rate stands at 350,000 metric tons which accounts for 10 percent of its annual LP Gas production, leaving about 90% gap market potential for development.
The big question is: Nigeria what are we waiting for?
With a population of over 170 million people, it is pertinent to say that Nigeria has a huge domestic market potential waiting to be explored. This is the best time to develop our domestic LP Gas market and consequently build a robust economy that is primarily driven by LP Gas. It is not out of place to say that the collapse in the international oil market is a blessing in disguise for Nigeria in terms of development of its domestic LP Gas market.
Countries like Indonesia have taken bold steps in implementing initiatives that developed their LP Gas market and are better off today. Nigeria should follow similar footsteps and join the other top gas consuming nations.
The right approach for the government and other stakeholders in the industry should be on how to leverage on the gains of the fall in the international oil prices and build a long term economy that will be pivoted on the domestic LP Gas market and less affected by external factors such as fluctuations in the international oil market. It is time for us to take our destiny in our hands.
LP Gas has huge benefits and uses when compared to other competing fuels such as firewood, charcoal, kerosene and gasoline.
Climate change and its mitigation has been a topical issue which has dominated the international climes in recent times. The quest for a sustainable clean energy source as a measure to mitigate the ugly effects of climate change has equally received global attention.
There is no doubt that LP Gas availability in Nigeria is sustainable on a long term and it is also an eco-friendly fuel.
Among other benefits, LP Gas as a clean energy source is an eco-friendly fuel which makes it easier for Nigeria to adopt as her primary energy source both for domestic and other industrial applications.
Gas to Health Initiative (GTHI) and other stakeholders in the LP Gas industry has done a lot in the area of sensitizing Nigerians to switch to LP Gas for cooking as against the use of other competing fuels which are injurious to both the users and the environment.
While sensitizing the masses on the need to switch to LP Gas, we noticed that among other factors, an average Nigerian consumer is ignorant of the benefits and uses of LP Gas and also afraid of the product’s safety implications.
It is a fact that GTHI has done a lot in the area of LP Gas awareness campaign and empowerment, where they have donated over 5000 filled LP Gas cylinders and accessories ranging from 3kg to 12.5kg cylinders to beneficiaries in over 10 states of the federation. Notably among them is the recent “Mama Put conversion to LP Gas” project in which over 150 local food vendors were trained and empowered by GTHI with industrial LP Gas double cooking gadgets free of charge and also launched the book, “Who cooks it feels the brunt”.
The main objective of this gesture is to convert all local food vendors (mama put, akara/Yam fryers, Garri fryers, Mai Suya and their likes) from the use of firewood and kerosene for cooking to a better form and most efficient energy, LP GAS. This is to ameliorate the negative health, economic and environmental effects posed by these traditional cooking fuels.
Awareness campaign is strategic to the attainment of this goal of developing Nigeria’s LP Gas market.
Having said that, there is room for more efforts to be invested by the government and other stakeholders in the industry in complimenting what GTHI has started in the area of mass sensitization.
Suffice to say that awareness campaign is a very expensive project which GTHI being a non-governmental organization cannot carry or fund alone because of her limited financial clout, there is a need for the government and other stakeholders in the LP Gas industry to put their resources together and execute this project seeing that any resources channeled in this direction will not only yield result in the short and medium term but will sustain Nigeria’s economy on a long term.
This campaign message needs to be taken to the grassroots where greater population of Nigerians who use mainly firewood for cooking reside in the rural areas without neglecting the urban dwellers either.
Again, the issue of availability, accessibility and affordability need to be addressed by the government and other stakeholders for these potential LP Gas consumers to buy in.
Just imagine that 50 percent of Nigeria’s population switches to LP Gas, the direct consequence is that there will be increase in job creation, reduction in antisocial crimes (because a lot more people will be engaged) and increase in Nigeria’s internal generated revenue (IGR). This is because more gas plants will be built, more cylinder/accessories manufacturing plants will be built, more LP Gas distribution networks will spring up to address the issue of accessibility and more man power will be required.
This discourse is just centered on switching Nigerian population to the use of LP Gas for domestic applications, imagine how Nigeria’s economy will grow if the populace embrace the use of LP Gas for other industrial applications like auto gas, electricity etc.
Looking at the wide applications of LP Gas and its attendant benefits both to the user, the environment and the economy, one wonders why the government and other stakeholders in the LP Gas industry are still foot-dragging from tapping fully into this multi trillion Dollars market.
The government need revive its drive and passion towards creating the enabling environment through favorable legislation and other budgetary provisions which will give LP Gas advantage over other competing fuels and also give the private sector the needed confidence to invest and reinvest in capital infrastructures which will aid in building a robust LP Gas market that Nigerians will be proud of.
The time to tap into this life time opportunity and build a solid long term domestic LP Gas is now.