TO be passionate about Africa is to believe in Africa, understand Africa.’’ These words from Jean Claude Bastos De Morais, the founding Board member of African Innovation Foundation (AIF) were enough motivation for Justus Nwaoga, the Chief Technologist in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, University of Nigeria, Nsukka to begin the journey of changing Nigeria’s electricity supply via renewable energy.
Pharmacist Justus Nwaoga set out a project solely focused on Africa’s solar energy market, believing that it is possible to have clean, renewable solar energy powered by African solar panels. He arrived at an understanding that Mimosa can utilise solar power system, so he converted Mimosa’s sensitivity into sunlight into what is now called the Mimosa Solar Panels.
Sustainable Energy using the organic medicinal African weed, ‘mimosa pudica’ commonly known as ‘touch and die’. “This plant, he began, is a common weed around us, children sometimes play with, when it is touched, it closes itself and after sometime it will reopen. So as a pharmacist, I wasn’t really looking at the weed, I was fascinated at its reaction to sunlight and got more interested in what’s making it react to radiation. I was certain this would be a huge business opportunity that will not only change the solar power market but also provide jobs for our labour market.”
It is a fact that one in five people still lacks access to modern electricity as three billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating. More so, research has also shown that energy is the dominant contributor to climate change because it is accounting for around 60 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, reducing the carbon intensity of energy is a key objective in long-term climate goals now.
If we are to ensure access to affordable, reliable and modern energy, all has to come one step closer to embracing recent progress in electrification, particularly in local development councils, However, national priorities and policy ambitions still need to be strengthened to put the world on track to meet the energy targets for 2030. From 2000 to 2016, the proportion of the global population with access to electricity increased from 78 per cent to 87 per cent, with the absolute number of people living without electricity dipping to just below 1 billion.
Green finance is one business opportunity people can tap into, it is an opening that centres on supporting local, community-level projects, with an emphasis on sustainable, ecologically friendly agriculture. Green finance is usually concerned with providing educational opportunities, funding for artistic endeavours and projects that support local ecology.
A typical example is The Bank of Industry (BOI’s) recent upward review of its Solar Energy Fund to N6 billion. This Solar Energy Fund is to enable various categories of End users (commercial and residential) acquire reliable solar solutions. As opposed to more conventional companies in the world of finance, green finance is preoccupied with social profitability. While monetary profit remains important, the goal of green finance is to support beneficial projects that provide value to the local community and ecology. In fact, green financial institutions can fill a void to realize a positive project that otherwise would not exist that truly benefits the community.
Nigeria is blessed with abundant renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, geothermal, ocean waves and tides. Despite this, the nation continues to grapple with substantial electricity deficit. Nowadays, the demand for solar arrangement as an alternate source of energy is growing very fast. This, alone, provides a vista of opportunities to entrepreneurial minds.
- Ekene Odigwe