Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja.
Nigeria is working towards achieving a lasting solution to gas flaring in the Niger Delta with the approval through the approval of a proposal to convert the country’s natural gas into methanol.
The cabinet gave the approval during Wednesday’s cabinet meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who briefed State House correspondents, said that his ministry presented a memo at the meeting that required the utilisation of methanol in the Nigerian economy.
“The problem that we have in the Niger Delta, where our natural gas is flared, has created lots of environmental problems for our fellow Nigerians living around those areas where the has is continuously flared.
“It is a major concern to this administration.
“One way to help us to completely solve this problem of gas flaring is to convert the natural gas into methanol,” he said.
Explaining that methanol is a liquid, Dr. Onu said it could be used in virtually all sectors of the economy,
“You can use methanol for transportation. All these racing cars that they put M85, M100, essentially that M is methanol and it means it’s 85 per cent methanol, 15 per cent gasoline..
“But for ordinary use, normally, the blending will be 15 per cent of methanol so that you don’t have to make any adjustment to your vehicle.
“Then also, methanol can be used to replace diesel in these trucks that we find in our highways because methanol is cheaper and it is environmentally friendly so that all the problems that are associated with the use of diesel can be solved by the use of methanol, ”he said.
The minister also explained that methanol is a clean fuel that could replace kerosene for cooking in the rural areas..
“Also, our people in rural areas can use methanol for cooking so that it can replace kerosene because when you use kerosene you have soothes and it creates health problem for you.
“But methanol does not have that; it’s very clean, safe and cheap.
“It’s one way that we can utilize our gas in our rural areas and it’s going to help us in addressing the issues of deforestation.
“Today we are losing many of our forest trees because we are using them for domestic energy.
“Methanol is also used for generating electricity, which we can use to power our plants and many other plants that currently use diesel, methanol will be a replacement.
The minister said that the implementation of the policy would help to create new jobs and new businesses.
“ It will help us to create new businesses, particularly micro and small businesses that have the potential to grow into bigger ones.
“It will help in the creation of jobs, and it will also help in the creation of wealth. It will be one of the things that will help us in the fight against poverty.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council has added digital economy to the Ministry of Communications.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, told reporters on Wednesday that that renaming the ministry was in line with global trends.
He said that the contribution of information communication technology to Nigeria’s economy has continued to increase, necessitating that more priority be given to it rather than leaving it at the periphery.
“The contribution of ICT to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, is increasing by the day.
“If you look at the second quarter of 2019, you will find that oil and gas contributed 8.82% of our GDP, while the non-oil sector, collectively, contributed 91.18%; ICT contributed 13.85% to our GDP,” he said.
Pantami explained that the renaming of the ministry was also to bring it in line with global practice that is moving towards digital economy.
“So we felt that leaving digital economy at the periphery in our country will not be good to our economy,” Pantami said.
According to him, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari prioritizes digital economy and that requires that a ministry be assigned to supervise its growth in Nigeria.