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How COP26 can aid climate-smart infrastructure development in Nigeria

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COP26
R-l: Prof Onyia with COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma

As plans for the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow intensifies, the Managing Director of UK Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (UKNIAF), Prof Chidiebere Onyia spoke with the British Deputy High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones about climate-smart infrastructure design and development in Nigeria and the critical role the programme plays as a delivery component for UK Aid.

road infrastructure, FERMA

Addressing infrastructure gap in Nigeria

UKNIAF is a UK Aid-funded demand-led technical assistance programme that helps the Nigerian government deliver socially inclusive, climate-smart infrastructure.

Prof Chidiebere Onyia spoke with the Deputy High Commissioner on aspects of UKNIAF’s work on Energy, Infrastructure Financing, and Roads. Hey also discussed how the programme can support the Energy Transition Councils’ efforts to prepare Nigeria for COP26 and beyond.

During the discussions the Deputy High Commissioner explained that UKNIAF remains critical to the UK-Nigeria collaboration in the Energy Transition Council, not only in preparing for COP26 but also for initiatives beyond this event.

UKNIAF supports COP26 through its work with regulators and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the energy sector, where they highlight opportunities to mitigate the challenges of the energy transition, both on-grid and off-grid.

“These opportunities are also matched with potential investments. The Energy Transition Council allows UKNIAF to step up our engagement and efforts in the run-up to COP26; and beyond COP26, the focus will be on resolving the obstacles hindering Nigeria from making the energy transition a reality where our programme’s assistance in this respect is critical”, he said.

Prof Chidiebere Onyia and the Deputy High Commissioner agreed that coordination and capacity across key MDAs must be improved in the run-up to COP26 and beyond if policy objectives are to be met.

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Meanwhile, they both agreed that a lot of work is already being done to encourage energy transition, however, the challenges of the energy transition remain, and they must be acknowledged as we work to overcome them.

“At the same time, we need to factor in the upcoming Nigerian elections”, he said.

The Nigerian government’s goodwill and engagement, particularly that of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and the Minister of State for Power, who also serves as the Chair of the Energy Transition Council, must be recognised.

During the discussions, the Deputy High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones also that:

“We live in a competitive world where investors are looking for a location that provides adequate return on investment. It is important, therefore, to make Nigeria as competitive as possible to attract those investments. There is a lot of goodwill, effort, and application; consequently, we must work with the Nigerian leadership while also highlighting this to potential investors. This is one of UKNIAF’s key component areas – Infrastructure Finance.”

On his part, the Managing Director of UKNIAF, Prof Chidiebere Onyia, explained that:

“The UKNIAF’s efforts to assist the regulator in developing evidence-based regulatory practices are critical in raising climate awareness and will go some way to aligning Nigerian government priorities with climate-smart principles. Looking at government priorities through the lens of climate sensitivity does not preclude seeing the broader issues that require attention, such as bankability, efficiency, and access. Data is always critical for regulators and investors, and understanding the impact of policy and allowing data to inform predictable regulation is vital.”

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