Nigeria's Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (M) and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (R) in Ivory Coast during the launch of W.Africa energy group

Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (M) and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (R) in Ivory Coast during the launch of W.Africa energy group

Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has urged African nations to focus greater attention on development of renewable energy as major source of electricity.

He also called for the reduction of bureaucracy and tariffs in order to make the business environment on the continent both attractive and profitable.

The advices are contained in his speech at the maiden meeting of the African Energy Leaders’ Group held in Cote D’Ivoire on Tuesday, made available to the News agency of Nigeria.

The vice president said “although solar power is expensive now, but with all the investments in the world and creativity coming into it, it is becoming cheaper and cheaper.

“So, it represents for us a major source of power and renewable energy anywhere is a win-win situation.

“There is no reason at all why renewable energy should not be our focus in Africa, in west Africa, in the next few years.”

He said there was so much to do in that regard and so much to be discussed with the private sector about what to do in that particular area.

Osinbajo also decried the level of bureaucracy in the continent which although intended to boost investments, it rather slowed it down.

“I think there is need for us to reduce the bureaucracy involved in doing business in our different environment, first of all for local investments and then for international investments of any kind.

“There is a great need for freeing up the environment; there are just too many bureaucratic bottlenecks, too many stops, too many places you need to go to for approvals.

The vice president referred to the situation in Nigeria’s power sector, which according to him the administration is trying to unravel.

He said “so many of them trying to get a power purchase agreement takes so many months, sometimes years.

“And part of the reason is that we set up structures which we assume will make business easier but coming to grips with some of them involve so much time and energy.

“We have so many structures set up and these are standard structures all over the world but the truth is that they take far too much time.

“It is possible for us to have one-stop agency for a lot of bureaucracies that attend to getting approvals doing business in the environment,” he added.

Osinbajo further called for the reduction in electricity tariffs to attract both foreign and local investors as well as accommodate the needs of consumers.

“The truth of the matter is that we must free up our tariffs so that the market determines to a very large extent how power is priced, how gas is priced.

“We have a funny situation where power is sold for three dollars but the export price is seven dollars.”

He said a lot of investment groups and the gas producers wonder why they should sell power at three dollars when they could export at seven dollars.

“So finding that balance that satisfies gas producers and the public is one that we have to deal with as quickly as possible,” he said.

He added that there must be some progress after so many years in the power sector and urged further collaboration among the industry operators in the continent to achieve that.

“The truth is that there is a credible opportunity for cooperation.”

In his remark, the Co-Chairman of the African Energy Leaders’ Group, Chief Tony Elumelu, said there was the need to fast track investments in power to the level achieved telecommunications.

He said that short term measures should be discarded, the space should be opened for long term investments and the political leaders should be courageous to support the private sector to improve power supply within 15 years.