Currently, many people living in Nigeria can relate to the hit song, “it must have been love by Roxette.” The song’s lyrics, It must have been love, but it’s over now. It was all that I wanted, now I’m living without, aligns with their feelings since the announcement of the fuel subsidy removal last week. Over the years, the government has repeatedly said the subsidy on petrol was unsustainable due to the amount spent. Last year alone, over N4 trillion was used to subsidize petrol, more than the government spent on education and healthcare combined. Yet for Nigerians, the fuel subsidy removal is bittersweet. And as Nigerians say goodbye to fuel subsidies, their new reality has sparked vibrant discussions and debates. Critics of the fuel subsidy removal argue that it will further weaken the purchasing power of Nigerians and impoverish more citizens in a country where almost half of the population is poor. The bottom line of these conversations raised has been focused on mitigating the impact of the fuel subsidy removal and finding alternatives that prioritize the well-being of people. Whether it is addressing transportation, the increasing cost of living, or purchasing power of Nigerians, these conversations are cutting across sectors.  

Embracing renewable energy

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer and the eleventh-largest oil-producing country in the world. Oil accounts for about 60 percent of government revenue and over 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings. So it makes sense that they would heavily rely on fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel for electricity generation. However, the world is changing. And one-half of the two things driving this change is climate change (the other being technology). In the last few years, conversations surrounding renewable energy have emphasized the need to diversify the energy mix and reduce dependence on these fossil fuels. 

On different occasions, Nigeria has tried to diversify its energy mix by investing in renewable energy projects such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. For instance, the Nigerian government launched the Solar Power Naija program in 2020. The plan is to provide energy access to 5 million households, or 25 million Nigerians in rural areas and underserved urban areas. Private individuals are increasingly installing solar panels in their homes too. Last year, Aljazeera reported that Nigeria’s solar companies are seeing a surge in demand for mini-grids and equipment as businesses. However, Nigeria’s installed PVs per capita amount to only about 1 watts compared to an average of 8 watts in similar emerging market countries. With the current deployment rate, Nigeria’s PV per capita could reach 5 –8 GW by 2030. Looks like Nigeria will have to revise its commitment to developing and adopting renewable energy sources.

Oando Clean Energy Limited (OCEL), the renewable energy subsidiary of Oando, in partnership with the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) launched operations of its electric mass transit buses in May 2023.

Powering up with electric vehicles (EVs)

Just like other climate change efforts, the global shift towards electric mobility has gained momentum in recent years, with countries worldwide promoting the adoption of EVs. Nigeria is not left out. In 2020, Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, introduced an electric car-sharing program, making EVs available for rent. Sokoto also became the first state in Nigeria to launch a solar-powered electric car charging station. Moreover, Nigeria also has several proposals for EV manufacturing and assembly plants in the country. Yet, like many projects in Nigeria, these are yet to make significant progress. For example, the Lagos state government has yet to unveil electricity charging points. Beyond charging points, the state of the automotive sector has been linked to the inability of the Nigerian government to pass into law, a bill seeking to back up the policy.

There is also the concern that the bulk of Nigeria’s population is poor and cannot afford to own electric vehicles. Perhaps, Nigerians have a better chance if the government invests in EVs and builds a sustainable transportation ecosystem. Which can be done through incentives and infrastructure development. For example, Governments can provide incentives such as tax breaks or subsidies for EV purchases and invest in charging infrastructure to facilitate their widespread use. This not only reduces the country’s dependence on fossil fuels but also fosters local manufacturing and promotes technological advancement.

Keeping up with fair wages

It is nearly impossible to talk about the cost of living, and not have it trickle down the minimum wage discussions. Nigeria has always faced discussions and debates surrounding the adequacy of the minimum wage to the cost of living. In 2019, Nigeria’s President signed into law an increase in the minimum wage, raising it from 18,000 naira to 30,000 naira per month. This move came after years of conversations, protests, and negotiations by labor unions and civil society groups advocating for better remuneration for workers in Nigeria. 

Yet, the minimum wage has struggled to keep pace with Nigeria’s ever-increasing cost of living. This is why soon after the announcement of the fuel subsidy removal, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), proposed a nationwide strike. Although the body has suspended the strike, following ongoing conversations between the body and the government, the new reality is proof of why reevaluation of the minimum wage has become crucial in alleviating the financial strain on vulnerable populations. Moreso, it will help maintain social stability and a decent standard of living. It’s about creating transparent wage policies that take economic realities and workers’ welfare into account.

Remote work again?

When the pandemic struck in 2020, many organizations in Nigeria were forced to adopt remote work policies to ensure business continuity and prioritize employee safety. When the pandemic ended, it seemed like the buzz around remote work died down as quickly as it was birthed, especially within conventional workspaces. A few organizations opted for the hybrid work setting and even fewer, remained completely remote. 

Yet again, with the removal of fuel subsidies putting a strain on the cost of transportation, conversations are buzzing about the possibilities of remote work arrangements to reduce commuting needs and alleviate the burden of higher fuel costs. Some private companies have adopted this already. Now it appears, state governments are also hopping on this train. Two states, Kwara and Edo, have approved a temporary reduction of workdays to three days a week for state public servants. 

The idea of remote work seems thoughtful and simple to picture; working from the comfort of your own home or having flexible work arrangements to dodge those long commutes and save on transportation costs. Yet, for this to happen, Nigerians will need reliable internet connectivity, electricity, and supportive policies. All of which the country currently struggles with. 

About Author

Related Post

× How can I help you?