By Chineme Okafor
Oando Marketing has joined forces with industry stakeholders and environmental protection interest groups, under the aegis of ACCESS AFRICA (Agriculture, Climate Change and Entrepreneurship Support Services) to combat deforestation through massive switch from the use of unwholesome fuels, such as firewood, charcoal, saw dust etc., to the clean, safe, efficient-burning and cheap Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) also referred to as cooking gas.
The ACCESS AFRICA initiative is an action-based project that seeks to employ strategic partnerships, business outsourcing processes, and empowerment schemes to achieve its objectives of providing access to clean energy and empowering Nigerians.
It is to this end that the body is organising a summit which seeks to mobilise high level national, state and local commitments towards the goal of universal adoption of LPG as the preferred cooking fuel in Nigeria. The summit will be chaired by Her Excellency, Justice Fati Abubakar, and other top dignitaries expected at the summit include Past and serving Ministers, law makers, representatives of DFID, USAID, Christian Aid, Africare, World LPG Association, NLC, Shell Nigeria, Renewable Energy Commission, Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cook stoves, NLNG, Alitheia, LAPO, Wellbeing Foundation.
The forum titled: “LPG as a climate control tool in Africa: The Sustainability Agenda’’ will hold in Abuja on 13th of November at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. Key focus of the one day seminar will include: drastic reduction of Nigeria’s carbon footprint, wealth creation, rural empowerment, and gender inequality issues. In addition the summit will provide a blue print of how a new generation of employees will be created and at 15,000 jobs by end of this year.
Today, over 112 million Nigerians still cook with unwholesome cooking fuels estimated to be the cause of many health and environmental issues plaguing the country and the people, especially those in the rural areas.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) about 95,300 deaths occur in Nigeria annually as a result of diseases and complications that arise from smoke inhalation that occurs due to the usage of dirty cooking fuels.
The use of these unwholesome fuels results in the depletion of other natural resources. For instance, the use of firewood accounts for the rapid depletion of the country’s rainforest. Currently, Nigeria has the world's highest deforestation rate of primary forest. Between 2000 and 2005 alone, the country lost 55.7 per cent of its primary forest.
It is ironical that Nigeria, which is the 6th largest producer of LPG in the world also, accounts for the lowest utilisation of LPG in sub-Saharan Africa. The national utilisation of LPG is at 150,000 metric tons, representing less than 10 per cent of the households in the country where a potential of 1.5 million metric tons exists. Any source of energy in a sustainable development scheme must satisfy the basic requirements of being environmentally friendly, affordable, promoting economic growth, being socially acceptable, and accessible to a large part of the population.
At the vanguard of the clamour for increased use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas is Oando Marketing, Nigeria’s largest fuel retailer and of the promoters of the summit. The company which has introduced a new LPG offering targeted at the low income households using its OGAS 3kg cooking stove is a proud promoter of clean cooking.
The 3kg cooking stove is an integrated plug and play bundle that comes with cylinder, burner platform and cooking gas. The company plans to inject 5 million cooking stoves into Nigerian homes within the next 5 years. Priced for the target consumers, the company has gone a step further to provide loans through a Lift Above Poverty Organisation, a pro-poor financial empowerment institution. OMP will leverage LAPO’s over twenty year experience in financing to provide healthier cooking to people at the Commenting on the agreement with LAPO, Mr. Abayomi Awobokun, CEO, Oando Marketing said: “This is another important step in our quest to provide innovative and affordable LPG cooking stoves to an estimated five million low income households over the next five years. We are strongly encouraged by the reception and feedback from consumers and other relevant stakeholders since we introduced the 3-in-1 gas cooking stove this year. This partnership with LAPO is one of many to boost our effort to switch majority of Nigerians from the use of biomass fuel to deepen LPG utilisation”
OMP also has a scheme through which budding entrepreneurs are empowered to be distributors of the 3kg cooking stove as secondary distribution point in addition to its vast retail network. These entrepreneurs are closer to the low income households and provided with three wheeler vehicles to move the products even to the remotest locations whilst the households can refill their gas at the SDP site or any of Oando’s Pay-U-Gas facility, an LPG dispensing unit that allows consumers to buy gas that suits their pockets.
For this laudable initiative to bear fruitful dividend, the government must provide the major stimulus as countries like India, Brazil, India etc. who had to emplace national policies towards switching their citizens to clean energy using LPG. Private energy firms should also be provided with the right socio-economic support to invest and join forces with government to stem the unwholesome fuel malaise. All these should be supported with an aggressive national campaign to burst the myths often associated with the use of LPG