Cuso, C’River Govt meets to advance green economy, create more jobs

Canadian based non-governmental organisation, Cuso International and Cross River State Government, on Friday met to re-energise relations for the propagation of green economy in Cross River State.

The meeting was an expanded session by the state’s development partners geared towards renewable energy for economic growth in the state as stakeholders believe more jobs will be created from the new approach.

Speaking during the workshop, Mr. Ebrima Sonko, country representative of Cuso International in Nigeria said the purpose of the stakeholders meeting is to give them the opportunity to feed into the processes that they started together.

He said, Cuso International’s aim in the green economy project is to get environmental responsibility, since humans are so closely related to the environment. “If we leave people to continue with the way they’re treating the environment, we will have nothing to live with the next generation in the long run.

“We have to be responsible, nobody is saying we are not exploiting the environment, but to do that, we have to do it responsibly”.

Considering the cost effectiveness for this green energy, especially for the people in the rural areas with low financial status, Sonko said the most important thing is attitudinal change, followed by knowing the exact thing to do. “What we are trying to do is to prepare something with the people, get their approvals and present to the state government (State Planning Commission).

“What we’d expect is that, that strategy will be part of their policy making and ultimately part of their budgeting processes. Now, if people who have been in this processes all along, change their mindset and government support them by providing those things, obviously, we are going to get somewhere, something that everybody have a stake in”.

Mr. Ebrima Sonko, country representative of Cuso International in Nigeria

Sonko further highlighted the major challenges being the implementation. But he said, they have been able to overcome that. “Now, it is the government, the people, everybody; are we ready to move on? What are we going to do for those that are lacking behind, how can we pull them? Those are the major challenges”.

On her part, Mrs. Geraldine Akpet Ekanem, Permanent Secretary, State Planning Commission, representing the Chief Economic Adviser and Vice Chairman of the Commission said the essence of the meeting was to ensure the proper framework is put in place in retrospect of the green economy, green jobs policy.

Ekanem said, the commission have been on advocacy visits and mobilisation talks with the relevant stakeholders, MDAs, and youth Associations, including meetings. “A framework (draft policy) have been put in place.

“This stakeholders meeting is to ensure that the framework have the necessary things in place to produce the final policy that will be generally accepted across the State and will be sustainable and workable enough, in line with the state government’s policy.”

In particular, Ekanem said she’s seeing the project to come to fruition as the State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade is more interested with the climate change. “You can see the Governor have introduced the Green Sheriff and they are working effectively”.

Mrs. Geraldine Akpet Ekanem, Permanent Secretary, State Planning Commission

Apart from the fine suit this green energy will bring to Cross River and Nigeria at large, Ekanem also reiterated that, they will be job creation too. She commended Cuso International for assisting the state government to ensure the framework come to pass.

Tony Ikpeme, Director of Finance, Cross River State Electrification Agency (SEA) representing the Director General said Cross River have had a motive to develop green economy for the state, and that the stakeholders meeting organised by Cuso International comes handy. He added that, the agency is trying to develop a frame work for it, which should be adopted by the State.

“The state and the individuals are for green economy and absolutely green economy is the way to grow.”

By proving how far the state has gone in respect of green economy, Ikpeme said, they are trying to do a pilot scheme in Umon Island, Biase Local Government Area which is absolutely the first of its kind in the South-South geopolitical zone of the nation. “The Island is a peculiar source of energy, because they don’t have a choice, since they are disconnected from the national grid system.

“It’ll take about 30-years for the grid system to get to them. But the problem and the challenges are that, they are actually going to pay more for the renewable energy. It is solar based, therefore it will cost more to those who reside urban areas where National grid system is being used at a cheaper rate”, Ikpeme said.

Mr. Tony Ikpeme, Director of Finance, Cross River State Electrification Agency (SEA)

While lauding the green economy project, Ikpeme was more concerned about the cost, which he said is more, but still good for places without an alternative, especially the rural areas.

Speaking also was Godwin Ugah, Programme Manager for the Natural Resources Management Component of the YouLead Project, implemented by Cuso International who said there are various forms of renewable energy, but the meeting is more focused on the energy from the sun (solar).

Ugah also said, Cuso is so concerned about the green economy which is a world wide focus. He added that, most developed countries are moving towards the renewable energy and that Cross River State should key into this if the state wants to be industrialised.

Godwin Ugah, Programme Manager for the Natural Resources Management Component of the YouLead Project, implemented by Cuso International

“The concept may seem new, but somehow Cross River State have been engaged in the green economy. That is why Cuso International comes in; to institutionalised it, so the large biomass of the state’s renewable energy can be tapped for the betterment of the people and economy of the state”.

Looking at the economic aspect in terms of job creations from this green economy projects, Professor Francis Bisong, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Calabar said all fields can be channeled towards forestry development to create green jobs.

He sighted an instance of waste recycling, that is, conversion of waste from our day to day activities into manure, water for irrigation, etc; to be used for the cultivation of crops for consumption.

Professor Francis Bisong, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Calabar

Being a facilitator, Bisong also elaborated on the focal areas of the framework which he said are; intensive Agriculture and deforestation, critical watershed areas, prime ecosystem and biodiversified hot-spot.

Highlights of the meeting featured presentations by Prof. Bisong, group presentation and general discussion by Cuso, participants, Godwin and Asuquo.

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