Catching up with Abbas AbdulRafiu: 2016 LEDS GP Fellow for the Africa region
Abbas AbdulRafiu, Principal Scientist at NESREA and 2016 Fellow for the Africa region, spent his Fellowship at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) and Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED) at the University of Sussex, assessing how Nigeria could accelerate the implementation of its nationally determined contribution (NDC) and studying how similar African countries are approaching the task.
Abbas took part in peer-to-peer exchanges on the transition to a low carbon economy while at SPRU and CIED, held conversations with thought leaders involved in implementing NDCs in Africa, and attended lectures on leading innovation in energy policy. The objective of his Fellowship was to evaluate planning processes for implementing NDCs, with a focus on clean energy transition in Nigeria and countries in Africa with similar NDCs.
Abbas identified seven countries in Africa for his research: Botswana; Ghana; Malawi; Nigeria; Rwanda; South Africa; and Tanzania, and explored sectoral NDC implementation approaches for agriculture, forestry, energy, and transport. For each sector he identified the relevant NDCs and institutional actors, and government policies that could facilitate this transition. The analysis combined desk research and interviews with policy-makers, representatives from academia, and members of civil society.
Abbas found that the NDC submissions across the seven countries all shared strong similarities in structure, yet the countries had significant differences in their institutional arrangements, policy frameworks, demographics, income levels, economic complexities, ecological zones, and emissions levels. As these factors will play a significant role in how NDCs can be implemented, it may be a drawback that the NDCs are structured in such a similar way.
Building on his in-depth sector analysis that identified the alignment between low emission development policies with job creation, energy transition, and access to economic growth, Abbas identified two steps that he could undertake to promote low emission development in Nigeria. These include:
- Recommending practical actions to expose NESREA, government, and local communities to the complexities, investment needs, and financing required to implement NDCs in the country;
- Using the SPRU transformative innovation learning process to drive LEDS cross-sector system building across Africa.
In a wider learning context, he said:
“There is no alternative for [the seven chosen] African countries but to incorporate a new policy direction for the implementation of NDCs in their development policies. This calls for considerable creativity in mobilizing financial and human resources, building the institutions that support local innovation, promoting meaningful citizenship participation, ensuring that low carbon initiatives are framed to support policies and programs on renewable energy entrepreneurship for developing clean energy minigrids and stand alone systems, and providing a cost competitive, reliable, and customizable option for energy supply that can be deployed rapidly to meet energy needs in rural and remote communities.”
Since completing his Fellowship, Abbas has delivered step down learning of his findings to over 80 colleagues from NESREA and other line agencies in Nigeria, the Africa LEDS Partnership, and the African Centre of Technology Studies.
He has developed a project design document for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on introducing renewable energy to power farming and agricultural processing, and submitted a concept note to the Minister of Environment on Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security. This concept note on climate adaptation for agricultural practices builds on an ecosystem powered by renewable energy.
Findings from the Fellowship have also informed Nigeria’s Low Carbon Budget Strategic Plan, which will power low carbon transportation, agriculture, schools, universities, and energy generation – aimed at fulfilling many of the pledges in Nigeria’s NDCs.
Abbas is currently developing NESREA’s policy for national vehicular emission control and working with members of the Africa LEDS Partnership as part of the African Mini Grids Community of Practice. He has also been awarded a scholarship to study an MSc in Energy Policy at the University of Sussex, which he starts in September 2017.
To find out more about the African Mini Grids Community of Practice please contact firstname.lastname@example.org