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My name is Omeye and I started the Student Energy chapter in Nigeria at the University of Nigeria (SEUN). This chapter is part of a new pilot program Student Energy is executing in order to develop a model for students around the world to be able to take action on energy in their own communities.
I am 20 years old, I study geology at the University of Nigeria and I am currently at my 4th year in the University. In the following, I will share my experience with starting the first Student Energy chapter in Nigeria.
My passion for energy started right from my childhood as I was born into a country where you there is very little access to electric light, even though we have a huge amount oil and gas production. Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth is faced with the worst energy crisis of its kind. Iwayemi (2008) analyzes this crisis and points out four different reasons:
1. The constant insufficient quantity of energy, the poor quality of energy and the low access to energy although Nigeria’s endowments of non-renewable and renewable primary energy resources.
2. The inadequate gas supply despite being a world ranking exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
3. The extensive substitution of poor public electricity supply, coupled with highly polluting self-generated power.
4. The nature of the energy crises is protracted as the chronic energy infrastructural gaps have worsened in recent times.
These conditions have been bothering me and I really wonder how bad the future will be if the students and young people are not involved in energy development at the present time and if the Nigerian youth keeps remaining in silence.
My idea to start the first Student Energy chapter in Africa came in 2014 when I participated in a World Bank program on “Saving Energy through Energy Savings Performance Contract,” and then was enhanced when I was selected as Nigerian delegate for the International Student Energy Summit (ISES) in 2015. My passion for this work comes my concern on my country’s energy problems where there are regions without electricity for months or years.
These experiences opened my eyes on the need for training and creating future energy leaders in Nigeria and Africa. My hope is to see a better Nigeria that can celebrate having constant electricity supply and be free from other energy issues.
Student Energy at the University of Nigeria has already started and it is one of the most trending names in the University as many students and staff sees my idea as a welcome development and most importantly being the first in the continent. I was able to make it a reality and a dream come true by working in collaboration with the University’s Energy Centre. The director of the centre is currently the staff adviser of the chapter and that has made things easier for me and my team. We have been working on planning different activities for months now but due to a lack of sponsors we have restructured our plans considering our limited resources. My team and I contributed money together and also received small financial support from the University’s Energy Centre which led to the first Student Energy congress in my University at which 311 students attended. It was a historic day as students gathered for the first time to learn and discuss about energy development. I am confident that in less than one year our chapter will be the best, most influential and most populous student association in the University.
Even with the early successes there have been challenges in starting a chapter. My major challenge in starting the first Student Energy chapter in Africa lies on finance. Here in Nigeria, we do not have the same support systems for student clubs that exist in other countries so the work we have done so far has been undertaken by me and some other students who are really passionate about the cause even though we are from poor backgrounds. So far so good there are plans Student Energy global is working with us tirelessly to train us on sponsorship and help make the necessary connections to see that we are able to cultivate sponsors within and outside Nigeria. Another challenge that I can’t forget was on convincing my fellow students on the need for a chapter in the University as some students remained adamant on it and even some resulted in insults but all that even gave me more confidence never to quit but to strive and as it stands now I can boast that Student Energy at the University of Nigeria has more than eighty members and there are plans to expand it to more than three hundred in January. Some of our future plans are as follows:
Hosting Student Energy congresses, conferences, symposiums etc
Launching an annual energy essay competition to boost local energy innovation
Primary and Secondary schools energy outreach to tell them more about energy and to start building their interest very early
Through Student Energy at the University of Nigeria, Nigeria and Africa’s energy future will be bright, created by energy leaders inspired, educated and united by us.