In recent years, Nigeria’s suddenly sputtering oil and energy sector has seriously impacted the economy, leading to the country’s first recession in decades. This year, the country finally managed to crawl itself out of stagnation and back into growth.
The country’s government has been active in recovering, and has been tirelessly pushing the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), which would reform the country’s energy sector. The bill has been controversial and dissuaded many foreign investors and business partners due to significant delays in approving the legislation.
The bill seeks to regulate industry, which has been shockingly lacking proper oversight and legal frameworks for over a decade. One of the significant changes brought about by and regulated through the bill is the promised reduction of the wastage of precious gas due to sizable occurrences of gas flaring.
The new proposed reforms hope to harness this gas and process it into Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), which will enrich Nigerian gas revenues and drastically reduce malevolent carbon dioxide emissions. There are, of course, many other issues that the bill seeks to resolve.
The biggest emphasis for the PIGB is clarifying the role of the Nigerian government in the oil industry’s regulation, and creating enforceable rules. There is much need for transparency in how regulations are made in the industry, and for the government to be held more accountable in impacting the industry, which plays a major role in the advancement of the country’s economy.
The recognition for the need for reforms has resulted in the drafting of a National Gas Policy, a National Oil Policy, and an overarching Fiscal Policy, all of which have been drafted as a distinct executive bill awaiting approval from the National Assembly.
Senator Tayo Alasoadura, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) stated in May this year that the Bill would create a sizable amount of jobs for native Nigerians and also pave the way for the smoother operation of existing and new energy businesses, once the law was properly set.
Great emphasis has been placed on promoting local businesses by prohibiting the employment of foreign personnel for the fulfilment of tasks and skills that are available locally.
For skills that cannot be sourced locally, foreign experts will be hired to guide locals in the acquisition of the same. This is indeed a major boost for the domestic economy, and comes at a favourable time, after the gruelling recession that the land had witnessed in the recent economic past.
Sen. Alasoadura further said: “Government revenue from oil industry will increase. This means more funds in the hands of government to engage in developmental activities”. The reformation of the law will facilitate profit-making in the industry and thus will be conducive- and highly welcoming- to investors from abroad to help boost the national economy.
Niger Delta Image Credit: Depositphotos
The generation of power is expected to increase by a greater harnessing of the domestic gas resources, which will help propel the development of its industries.
There will be a liberalization and deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector, and subsidies will be fully removed. The aim is to bring up local businesses and contractors and allow them a greater share in shaping the economy of their own country. This is a highly empowering move.
The PIGB will also give ownership of any petroleum-related discovery or mining to Nigerians, whether it is found onshore or offshore. The Revenue-sharing laws and other provisions like the Host Community Fund, all stated under the Bill, will guarantee this.
Safety and protection laws in the energy industry have also been revised and updated for the welfare of the people. Much of the terror and danger posed by militants in the Niger Delta are hoped to be addressed and effectively minimized.
While threats from the terror groups are yet to be fully resolved, it is hoped that the Bill will at least open the way for greater protection of those in the energy industries.
Philanthropists Empowering their Fellow Citizens
Despite the glaring economic divide in Nigerian society, there are several affluent individuals of Nigerian descent who are coming up with ways to give back to their homeland, and help empower the people less fortunate than themselves. Philanthropy is not yet dead, and the Nigerian economy is benefitting from the initiatives of certain Nigerian billionaires.
The Aiteo group is one of Africa’s fastest expanding energy industries and their environment-friendly initiatives and means of operation are already revolutionizing the Nigerian (as well as larger African) oil and other energy-related industry.
Their CEO Benedict Peters (who has a net worth of over $ 2.7 billion) hopes to put back Nigeria on the global arena of energy. Under Peters’s leadership, the company has garnered billions’ worth of foreign investments, while also enabling the skill-development of local personnel and other domestic resources.
Peters has also supported other national charities towards the betterment of sanitation, health and the provision of basic amenities like safe water – for his fellow citizens.
Aiteo has also been in the news for its embrace of microgrid solutions and alternative energy. In Peters’ mind, much of the country will remain without access to major grid infrastructure. To resolve this, Aiteo has aggressively backed projects and solutions that create microgrids and help most citizens in Nigeria get energy without requiring gas or oil.
Other notable Nigerian philanthropists include Folorunsho Alakija of Famfa Oil, whose charity foundation has focused primarily on widows and orphans, and facilitated their empowerment by providing educational as well as legal help to those in need; Aliko Dangote, is another such individual whose industrial group has given educational provisions to scores of Nigerians and other West Africans.
Thus, despite the murky history of blows that the energy has suffered, it is commendable that the government and powerful Nigerian individuals alike are helping boost the industry and the Nigerian people.
There is a potential to further boost oil production in the country, once investments and regulations in place increase and enable the industry, respectively. The gas and other petroleum industries, besides oil, are also expected to increase over time. Perhaps now, Nigeria can finally march ahead into the future of the global energy industry. The turbulent past has given pertinent lessons, and Nigeria has learnt and developed from them.
DepositPhotos: African Oil Image Credit