The opening of the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo was held on Wednesday 18 October in Abuja, at the Shehu Musa Yar'adua Centre. The two-day event, which brings together businesses, policy makers and others, also houses exhibitors in renewable energy. The Ambassador of Finland to Nigeria Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury gave a speech at the event.
In her opening speech, the Ambassador of Finland to Nigeria Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury focused on the potential offered by solar power. For other speakers and exhibitors, too, solar solutions clearly seemed to be in the centre of attention. Below is the speech of Ambassador Suomela-Chowdhury:
Thank you for inviting me again to the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo.
It is certainly an initiative worth sustaining, and one that should keep growing and maturing every year. It can provide a great forum for discussion, as well as one for companies and agencies to present themselves and network in.
Last year when I spoke at this same forum, I highlighted circular economy, and waste-to-energy. I had just been to Finland then, and had visited several waste-to-energy plants. I was very excited about their potential, and continue to be so. Just a couple of weeks ago, in fact, I had a very inspiring discussion with a company operating in West Africa that provides waste-to-energy solutions. They see incredible potential for that technology in practically all the countries in the region.
In Finland, these issues certainly continue to be at the centre of attention. In Helsinki in June, the very successful World Circular Economy Conference took place, with experts, business leaders and decision makers from more than 100 different countries. In November, Finland will host the Nordic Energy Forum, with renewable energy as one focus area. Also, next month, when our Minister for Foreign Trade and Development is in Nigeria, energy will be an important sector represented in the Business Delegation that he brings with him. We look forward to discussing and exploring the many win-win opportunities that there are between Finland and Nigeria.
Something that I also touched upon last year, and that certainly seems to be going stronger and stronger, are off-grid solutions, and especially solar power. This technology, on many occasions, really seems to offer a shortcut to powering individuals, families, and small businesses - with minimal infrastructure and dependency on outside electricity providers. It could extend your active hours significantly, it could allow you child to study in the evening, and it could make your living environment safer.
These solutions are big business, too, and important global power companies, along with smaller players, are going after them, which ultimately is very good for the individual consumer, or small business that needs to be powered. As demand grows, the cost of this technology is falling. In my local supermarket in Finland, I can now find a durable easy to use solar powered garden light for just a few euros.
These solutions and technologies also play a crucially important role in showing us the way towards a sustainable future. Sustainable energy is fundamental to meeting the objective of Sustainable Development Goal number 7 –'Affordable and Clean Energy' – as well as SDG number 13 on Climate Action. It is, in fact, critically important to practically all of the Sustainable Development Goals – from Poverty Eradication to Decent Work and Economic Growth, from Quality Education and Gender Equality to Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
The growing populations and economies in Africa, no doubt, will require a massive investment in energy in years to come. At the moment, power is a big challenge in many of these countries, including in Nigeria. That challenge can also be a fantastic opportunity, for realizing the full potential of renewable sources of energy.
This month, Finland and the International Finance Corporation – which is part of the World Bank Group – announced the establishment of a joint climate fund that will support renewable and clean energy solutions, and other climate projects in developing countries. This is an important part of fulfilling our promise at the Paris climate meeting, where we committed ourselves to channeling a significant part of our development finance to climate actions. The Fund will also contribute to development effects like increasing jobs and tax revenue.
Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo can and should have an important role to play in fostering discussion, and focusing attention on these issues that are among the most crucial challenges and opportunities facing mankind today, as well as in finding solutions to promote the well-being of the Nigerian people.
Thank you for your kind attention.