2nd December, 2013
By Tayo Ogunbiyi
Energy remains a vital element of continuous growth in our contemporary world. Its availability or otherwise has serious implication for harmony and safety, the environment as well as social-economic development. In spite of the predominance of contemporary energy arrangements in western countries and other developed parts of the world, it is sad that a significant proportion of people, especially in the third world countries, are yet to enjoy unfettered access to modern day energy methods. It is rather sad, that most households in Nigeria still resort to outdated and cumbersome modes for their domestic cooking needs. Lack of visionary leadership, ignorance and poverty remain, perhaps, the most potent factors responsible for this. It is ironical that Nigeria, a nation blessed with an abundance of unused natural energy resources is unable to creatively meet the energy needs of the people. Nigeria currently boasts of one of the major reserves of proven gas reserves in the world. Unfortunately, because of limited capacity for utilization, a considerable portion of the gas produced is flared.
It is with a view to redressing this sorry trend that the Lagos State Government initiated the Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG, project. LPG is a product of the hydrocarbon refining process. It is possibly the cleanest and most efficient fuel available today. LPG has many unrivalled edges over traditional forms of cooking such as charcoal, kerosene stove, firewood among others. For one, it could help a great deal in reducing health hazards as it burns efficiently, devoid of turning out smoke and with low toxin emissions, thereby lessening indoor pollution. Also, it is effortlessly liquefied and stored in pressured containers. It can, equally, be easily transported in cylinders to potential users devoid of spillage
Similarly, it is less prone to adulteration. From an ecological perspective, LPG discharges much less CO (a greenhouse gas and the primary source of global warming potential) per meal when burned than wood fuel and other traditional fuels.
The recent launch of Eko Gas by the Lagos State Government, at the Masha Roundabout, Surulere, represents an integral part of the state’s LPG project. The scheme, which is part of the state’s new clean energy programme aimed at encouraging the utilization of LPG in the state, is indeed, a turning point in the state’s efforts to ensure safer and cleaner environment and also reduce greenhouse emission.
Through the initiative, Lagos has declared LPG as fuel of choice for cooking across the state because of its affordability, safety and environmental friendliness. The LPG cylinders come in various sizes e.g. 3kg, 6kg, 12.5kg etc. A 4-metric tonne skid plant has already been installed and commissioned in Surulere. The programme is expected to convert about one million people to using LPG, otherwise known as cooking gas in the next five years. About 20 percent of the cost of cylinder is being taken care of by the government, in other to encourage Lagosians to embrace the use of LPG for their domestic cooking.
The State government’s support for this initiative is reflected in the intervention of providing some financial assistance in reducing the initial cost of specific cylinder sizes to the citizens, particularly the rural dwellers and low income earners. This is a further affirmation of the state government’s commitment to the upliftment of the standard of living of the poor and less privileged in the society. It is part of the efforts to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor by raising the quality of life of vulnerable people in our midst. The main objective is to effect a progressive shift in the cooking habit of the people. In this way, it is expected that the people will be protected from the risk of death though fuel explosion, which usually occur, when they frantically look for kerosene and lose their lives in a country which paradoxically, has more than enough proven gas reserves.
Through the use of LPG in rural and low income households, Lagosians can be assured of better health, a cleaner environment and more efficient and faster cooking times. The LPG cylinders are affordable and portable and with the planned installation of skid plants across the state, users can be assured of a continued supply and ease of access. The LPG skid plants are expected to serve as refilling points for gas cylinders while also meeting the needs of the residents in the localities where they are sited.
It is a common knowledge that Kerosene is not only expensive and out of the financial reach of the masses in the country, but quite scarce and not friendly to the environment, but with the introduction of the LPG cooking gas, cooking gas has become cheaper and safer for the environment. Lagosians are, therefore, urged to embrace this initiative as this is what is in vogue in neighbouring countries like Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo as well as in the western world where everybody, including the poor, have access to cooking gas. On safety concerns that are raised often by potential users of cooking gas, it must be emphasised that the product was designed and fabricated with distinguishing qualities such as safety, affordability, portability and environmental friendliness.
Partnering the state government in the initiative are Oando Gas, NAPGAS, NIPCO, Banner Gas, among other members of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) who source product directly from NLNG. It is expected that other stakeholders will partner with the state government in the full realisation of this initiative. Nigeria is rated among the lowest in Africa on the per capita usage of LPG at 0.5kg, compared to countries like Ghana at 3kg, Cameroon at 1.90kg, South Africa at 5.5kg and Morocco at 44kg, yet Nigeria has the highest gas reserves in Africa. Now, that the Lagos State government has decided to show the way forward in terms of enabling everyone have access to LPG, is the time to change this trend.
•Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.