By Michael Jegede

At the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC, held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates UAE, between November 30 and December 12, 2023, the Cross River State government under the astute leadership of Governor Bassey Edet Otu, demonstrated its commitment towards renewable energy development in the state.

Knowing the role of renewable energy in transitioning to a green economy and convinced that switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources would help combat climate change, promote sustainable development and stimulate economic growth, Governor Otu at the COP28, signed relevant MoUs with strategic partners.

One of such strategic partnerships entered into by the Cross River government was with Oando Clean Energy, the renewable energy subsidiary of Oando Energy Resources. The MoU was expected to result in the setting up of a 100MW Wind Plant for power generation and establishment of an Electric Vehicle, EV, assembly plant for the rollout of electric vehicles for mass transportation within the state.

At the signing of the MoU with Oando, Otu through his Commissioner for Special Duties, Mr Oden Ewa, reportedly said, “This landmark agreement marks a significant step forward in Cross Rivers’ journey towards a cleaner and more sustainable future. The MoU paves the way for the transitioning of our mass transit system to cleaner and less expensive fuels whilst also allowing for the use of our natural resource, wind, to provide electrification for our people. I commend Oando Clean Energy for their innovative solutions that address the impact of climate change in Nigeria and her citizens.”

While briefing newsmen in Calabar on the gains of the state’s participation at the Global Climate Conference, the governor was quoted as saying, “As part of our green credentials, Cross River State is truly blessed with abundant wind speeds that are conducive with the establishment of the wind farms and power plants. Therefore, the development of the 100MW Power Plant in Akamkpa will not only significantly increase access to electric power for both residential and commercial use in urban and rural areas, but also contribute to environmental protection and climate change mitigation and bring about significant economic benefits to the state.

“Also, the establishment of an Electric Vehicles, EV, assembly plant in our dedicated green manufacturing zone within Cross River State’s Free Trade Zone, will create job opportunities, both directly in manufacturing and assembly and indirectly in associated industries.

“This will stimulate economic growth and enhance local skills and expertise development within the region. In addition to this, the rollout of electric vehicles for mass transportation, from highway to last mile will significantly reduce carbon emissions.

“This aligns with the global efforts to combat climate change. Through these two projects, the goals of developing sustainable communities within the state, stimulating economic growth from stronger investor interest, and increasing economic activity will be achieved, thereby increasing citizens’ quality of life.”

Otu had also revealed that committed to creating an environment that would lead to actualizing Cross River’s Green Plans, the state attracted the establishment of a $500 million 1GW Solar PV manufacturing plant by a consortium of international investors at COP28. He noted that “Cross River State is committed to fostering an environment that nurtures innovation, encourages investment in green initiatives, and promotes a thriving green economy.

“This commitment was shown in efforts aimed at maximising the opportunities provided by the COP28 event and was evident in the initiatives, partnerships, and collaborations initiated by the state government build-up to the conference, which culminated in various gains.”

Pleased with the steps taken by the Cross River State government, the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Stratus Consult Limited and Private Sector Representative of NDC Partnership, Prince Xavier Eyamba, commended the visionary leadership of Otu in trying to make Cross River a key player in the renewable energy drive and create a vibrant green economy for the state.

According to Eyamba, “Renowned as Nigeria’s greenest state, Cross River is making noteworthy strides in carbon sequencing. These significant MoUs, including a 100 MW energy project and electric vehicle infrastructure, align with the nation’s 2060 Net Zero target. This visionary approach underscores Cross River’s commitment to fostering a green economy.”

In further demonstration of its resolve to push for the advancement of renewable energy sector, Otu’s government which has developed a roadmap for the actualization of a $5 billion green economy with the proposed establishment of Green Economic Commission and a State Council on Climate Change, recently, organized a two-day Energy Conference and Exhibition 2024 with the theme: ‘Redefining the Energy Architecture of Cross River State, using Sustainable Fuels.’

Speaking at the Energy Conference and Exhibition, said to be the maiden edition, Otu averred: “Energy is among the first line enablers of industrialization; hence a catalyst for national economic growth and development. Nigeria is undoubtedly blessed with both fossil and renewable energy resources with the potentials of providing sufficient and efficient energy needs of the country if properly harnessed. Cross River State as a sub-national is also greatly endowed with these natural deposits for energy production.

“For renewable, the abundant sunshine could be tapped to provide solar energy, the stretching coastline of the state has the potentials of producing wind energy by installing wind turbines; while the abundant food and cash crop by-products could be harnessed to produce bio-fuel. Apart from our enormous gas reserve deposit for fossil energy, the state is also endowed with titanium, feldspar, tourmaline, manganese, lithium etc for clean energy transition. Since the world is gradually transiting from the fossil to sustainable energy sources for reasons of environmental friendliness and sustainability, Cross River State is poised to be a major player in the renewable energy drive. However, while we are pursuing the fossil-renewable switch as a gradual transition, we also need to expand the fossil-based energy resources to ensure availability and affordability; especially in our rural areas.

“With these energy potentials at our disposal, when I assumed office as the governor of the state, I made far-reaching decisions and took concrete steps at harnessing these resources. Coupled with the National Assembly’s amendment to the energy law; removing it from Exclusive to the Concurrent List, the state is open to potential investors for possible partnership in the provision of clean and affordable energy for the citizenry. As a state, we are poised to de-risk to the barest minimum, whatever challenges investors may counter. Among these are legal issues and repatriation of profits.”

The Cross River helmsman further stated, “To achieve the foregoing, this conference is therefore a veritable platform for us to reiterate our commitment towards the positioning of the state as an energy hub; with envisaged centres for Compressed Natural Gas CNG, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG Processing Plant, Electric Vehicle, EV, parts manufacturing plants etc. A berth of investment in any of these energy sources in the state, is therefore a guaranteed economically-viable venture with huge growth potentials. Besides, for being among the pioneer investors in these areas, there are other investment-friendly packages that are yet to be unveiled by the government of Cross River State. I welcome all of you on board the energy revolution of the State; for you will not regret taking the bold initiative.”

The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Kashim Shettima, at the energy summit, applauded the Cross River State Government for its efforts at advancing the sustainable development of renewable energy. Represented at the event by Tope Fasua, his Special Adviser on Economic Matters, Shettima assured the state of Federal Government’s assistance in the building of Cross River State Compressed Natural Gas, CNG, Processing Plant at Odukpani Local Government Area.

•Jegede, a journalist, writes from Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja


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