Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on has said that the perennial power problem in Africa could be solved through alternative energy sources like fossil fuels and coal.
Vice President Osinbajo, who spoke on Tuesday at the High Level Roundtable on the theme: Energy and Climate Change at the ongoing general meeting of the African Development Bank (ADB) in Lusaka, Zambia, noted that about 45 percent of Africans don’t have access to power in the world.
Osinbajo wanted the issue of climate change to be taken serious by the leaders, adding: “for us, priority today is development and we have to take development seriously.
“We are faced with a very dire situation and in most of Africa, we simply don’t have power and without power, there is very little that can be done.
“We think that renewable energy and all of the concern about Climate Change are important, but we must priorities development.”
He said that Nigeria is an example of one country enriched with hydro-carbon enriched countries, saying: “we have to leverage all that we can get from fossil fuel, coal is also important.”
According to him, the arguments about renewable energy are well-noted and Nigeria has the capacity for, and is going to tap into solar energy, stressing: “we are dealing with a major (developmental) problem.”
The Vice President said that it is possible that the twin issue of energy development and environmental concerns could be taken on simultaneously.
African leaders, he noted, needed the technology from the developed countries to make clean coal.
“We think that we must use our fossil fuel to the maximum. We must use our coal to the maximum, and we simply call on the support of the developed nations that are aggressive about reducing emissions, especially in coal power plants to give us the technology that is required because obviously there is available technology to make coal clean and we simply call upon them to give us that technology.”
While Africa is the least contributor to global emissions, he said that the continent is also the hardest hit by the whole consequences of climate change.
“That is the paradox. But that paradox becomes jeopardy when we are being asked to take the greater burden of resolving the problem of climate change, so we really need the help of the west in particular.”
Speaking on some of the limitations of solar power, the Vice President said: “we must bear in mind that for industry for example, the base load power is critical, the base load power is so much more difficult to get from solar power for example…so we must understand that our immediate need requires the base load power that can move us forward quickly and that we would get from fossil fuel, hydro power and coal fire plants.”
Other speakers at the panel included the presidents of Zambia, Edgar Lungu, and Chad, Idriss Deby Itno, who is also the current Chairman of the African Union.
The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, Prime Ministers and senior ministers from several other African countries were also in attendance at the formal opening event of the meeting where the President of the ADB, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina observed that the presence of several African leaders at the meeting was an expression of their support for the bank. [myad]