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Why CNG Adoption is Stuttering in Nigeria

Ismaila Umaru Lere

Recently, President Bola Tinubu banned members of his cabinet from purchasing petrol dependent vehicles, directing the mandatory procurement of compressed-natural-gas-powered vehicles by all government ministries, departments, and agencies.

The directive is in line with Tinubu’s commitment to ensure energy security, drive utility, and cut high fuel costs. Also, the government’s drastic action is in furtherance of Nigeria’s effort to transition to cleaner energy as CNG-enabled vehicles have been adjudged to produce lower emissions, even as they present a more affordable alternative for Nigerian energy consumers.

Addressing members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) a fortnight ago, President Tinubu affirmed that there is no turning back in the energy reforms initiated by his administration.

“This nation will not progress forward if we continue to dance on the same spot. We have the will to drive the implementation of CNG adoption across the country, and we must set the example as public officials in leading the way to that prosperous future that we are working to achieve for our people. It starts with us, and in seeing that we are serious, Nigerians will follow our lead,” the President reportedly said.

The President further directed the rejection of all memos brought by members of FEC seeking the purchase of traditional petrol-dependent vehicles, tasking the affected members of the council to go back and diligently seek value-driven procurements of CNG-compliant vehicles.

President Tinubu’s directive to ban the purchase of petrol-dependent vehicles by members of the Federal Executive Council is a bold move towards promoting energy security and sustainability in Nigeria. Transitioning to compressed natural gas-powered vehicles aligns with global efforts to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change. It’s a step in the right direction towards a cleaner and more sustainable future for Nigeria.

But despite the Nigerian government’s push to promote the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a cleaner and more cost-effective alternative to traditional gasoline and diesel fuels, the country’s CNG adoption rate has been sluggish.
One of the primary obstacles to widespread CNG adoption in Nigeria is the lack of a robust CNG refueling infrastructure. The country currently has a limited number of CNG stations, mostly concentrated in urban areas like Lagos and Abuja. This limited availability makes it challenging for potential CNG vehicle owners to access the fuel, deterring them from making the switch from traditional fuels.

Also, converting a vehicle to run on CNG or purchasing a CNG-powered vehicle requires significant upfront investments. The conversion kits and CNG-compatible vehicles tend to be more expensive than their petrol or diesel counterparts, which can be a significant barrier for many Nigerian consumers, especially those in the lower-income brackets. This high initial cost discourages widespread adoption, as the long-term savings in fuel costs may not be enough to offset the initial investment.
While the federal government has made efforts to promote CNG adoption, the incentives and policies in place have not been sufficient to drive significant change.

The absence of tax credits, subsidies, or other financial incentives makes it less attractive for both consumers and businesses to invest in CNG-related technologies. Additionally, the lack of clear and consistent regulatory frameworks surrounding CNG usage and infrastructure development can create uncertainty and hesitation among potential investors and adopters.

Interestingly, many Nigerians are not fully aware of the benefits of CNG or the long-term cost savings it can provide. The lack of widespread public education and awareness campaigns has contributed to a general lack of understanding and acceptance of CNG as a viable alternative fuel option. Without a clear understanding of the advantages of CNG, consumers are less likely to make the switch from traditional fuels.

Most significantly, the entrenched market position of petrol and diesel fuels in Nigeria presents a significant challenge for CNG adoption. These traditional fuels have well-established distribution networks, consumer familiarity, and a strong political and economic influence. Overcoming this market dominance and convincing consumers to change their fuel preferences requires a concerted and sustained effort by the government and CNG industry stakeholders.

In addition, some vehicle owners may be hesitant to convert their vehicles to CNG or purchase CNG-compatible models due to concerns about the compatibility and safety of the technology. The lack of clear information and certification processes for CNG conversion kits and CNG-powered vehicles can contribute to these concerns, making consumers reluctant to make the switch.

Similarly, the reliability and consistency of CNG supply and pricing in the country have also been identified as challenges. Fluctuations in CNG availability and price can erode consumer confidence and make it difficult for businesses and individuals to plan their fuel budgets effectively.

To address these challenges and accelerate the adoption of CNG in Nigeria, a multi-faceted approach is required. The government should consider implementing targeted incentives, such as tax credits or subsidies, to make CNG conversion and CNG-powered vehicles more financially attractive. Investments in the expansion of the CNG refueling infrastructure, particularly in strategic locations, would improve accessibility and visibility for potential CNG users.

Additionally, the government and industry stakeholders should collaborate to launch comprehensive public awareness and education campaigns to inform Nigerian consumers about the benefits of CNG, address their concerns, and encourage the transition from traditional fuels.

Streamlining the regulatory framework and ensuring clear certification processes for CNG-related technologies can also help build consumer confidence and encourage broader adoption.

Finally, addressing the supply and pricing challenges through better coordination between CNG producers, distributors, and the government can contribute to a more stable and reliable CNG market, which is crucial for sustained adoption.

Indeed, the successful implementation of CNG adoption across Nigeria faces several key challenges, including infrastructure deficiencies, high upfront costs, lack of incentives and policies, limited awareness, market dominance of traditional fuels, concerns about vehicle compatibility, and inconsistent supply and pricing. an government, industry stakeholders, and the public. Nigeria can unlock the potential of CNG as a cleaner, more cost-effective, and widely accessible fuel option, contributing to the country’s overall energy transition and environmental sustainability goals.