The Role of States in Driving Nigeria’s Energy Transition

Clean Technology Hub
4 min readJun 7, 2022


Image Credit: Millenius/ Shutterstock

Abel B.S. Gaiya*

Climate change is a global problem, and requires the involvement of all actors and instruments, from international bodies and multilateral agreements at the supranational level, to individuals, corporations, central governments, subnational governments and communities at the local and national levels. Yet present efforts at climate action have systematically suffered from inadequate engagement and commitment across all levels. No just legally-binding global emissions agreement has emerged; developed countries provide inadequate levels of climate financing to developing countries; not enough companies are greening their production processes and divesting from high emissions industries to reinvest in cleaner industries; and not enough individuals and communities are adopting more climate-friendly habits and consumption patterns.

States and Climate Action

In Nigeria, the Federal Government of Nigeria’s budgetary allocation to climate change following the 2013 National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change, has declined, along with the energy share of these allocations. At the subnational level, this activity is even more meager. Most states neither have a climate change policy nor an energy transition plan. It was only in 2013 that Delta State became the first in Nigeria to launch a climate change policy — which lapsed after five years and has not been renewed –; and only in 2018 was there a first serious attempt in Lagos to create a state electricity market.

This is not to say that state governments are doing nothing when it comes to adopting renewable energy. In many states, various line ministries occasionally undertake projects or programmes which promote renewable energy technologies, such as the Delta State Ministry of Environment being involved with waste recycling plants, disbursing clean cookstoves, providing household biogas digesters, solar-powered boreholes and water heaters. In Ebonyi State, the Special Assistant (SA) to the Governor of Vocational College has been engaged in promoting electric vehicle production in the Ebonyi State Vocational College under the government’s Green Transport Scheme and Zero Oil Economy Initiative. The Jigawa State Government is also collaborating with the Federal Government on solar energy projects.

These initiatives, however, tend to be dispersed and without consolidation within a comprehensive policy. This not only limits policy coherence and inter-ministerial collaboration, but also causes states to miss opportunities to signal their commitment to donors and investors if they possess a clear policy.

A Changing National Climate

There was a time, from the 1950s, when regional governments in Nigeria took the lead in developing and sustaining regional development plans, funded by internally generated revenues and foreign aid. With the beginning of military rule in 1966, the division of the four regions ultimately into 36 states, and the concurrent centralization of national development planning and fiscal power within the federal government, such high levels of subnational activity went into decline. Some of the negative consequences of this trend include high levels of insecurity, fiscal crisis and national electricity grid collapses. In recent years, these have intensified demands for state or regional security forces, fiscal decentralization and state-regulated electricity markets.

The potential for subnational governments (state and local governments) to help drive Nigeria’s energy transition is reflected in the fact that, by 2016, subnational governments made up 48% of general government expenditure in Nigeria. However, the potential is limited, as evinced by the fact that capital expenditure at the subnational level is low, at 23.7% of subnational total expenditure in 2016. Although there is no database on state government spending on renewable energy, perusing the annual approved budgets of a few states reveals modest spending on the sector, largely on solar traffic lights (see Figure 1 below).

Figure 1: Budgetary allocations to renewable energy projects by state in 2021 (Source: Author’s compilation from state budgets obtained from BudgIT’s Open Nigerian States.

Yet these states typically spend substantially more on purchasing and maintaining generator sets and purchasing fuel (see Figure 2 below).

Figure 2: Budgetary allocations to renewable energy projects and generator set purchase, maintenance and fuelling by state in 2021 (Source: Author’s compilation from state budgets obtained from BudgIT’s Open Nigerian States).

CTH and Driving Renewable Energy Policy at State Level

The emerging climate of demands for fiscal decentralization, efforts at decentralizing electricity provision and recognition of the need for greater subnational increase in capital expenditure is appropriate for greater state involvement in Nigeria’s energy transition. This was the impetus for Clean Technology Hub (CTH) to implement the “Driving Renewable Energy Policy Adoption at State Level” project funded by Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS). HBS and CTH observed the disconnect between national climate change and renewable energy policies adopted at the federal level and state government officials unaware of such policies.

The aim was then to drive the domiciliation of these national policies by advocating state governments to develop their own policies and implementation plans. Out of the three states where an initial study was undertaken in 2019 (Ondo, Delta and Ebonyi), Delta State was selected as a pilot state. CTH has facilitated six workshops and meetings with government, private sector and civil society stakeholders in Delta State since July 2021. Through this wide consultation we have developed a draft renewable energy policy roadmap intended for the Delta State Government to adopt. Based on the outcomes of this drive, and the interest of donors, CTH intends to subsequently replicate the project in other states, including Ondo.

Abel B.S. Gaiya* is a Deputy Research Manager at Clean Technology Hub.



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