As the price of gas continues to rise, lamentations have become the regular song on the lips of Nigerians. In this piece, LADESOPE LADELOKUN writes on the pains the rising price of cooking gas has caused Nigerians and how to reduce its accompanying burden
With a handful of charcoal sandwiched between stones, her nostrils twitching smoke wafted upwards, Mrs Biola Wonuola was left watery-eyed. But the discomfort etched on her visage, she said, was a fallout of the spiralling price of gas. Wonuola, who runs a restauramt at the Arigbawonwo area of Ofada, Ogun State, said opting for charcoal in spite of its accompanying discomfort was a business decision she had to take to stay afloat.
“At first, I was buying gas but I had to switch to charcoal because I realised I was not making profit. I spent what could have been my profit on the purchase of gas. If I had continued, I’m sure you will not be here talking with me. I would probably be somewhere in my village. But it is something to worry about. In fact, there is a lot more to worry about. We worry about the rising cost of everything. Look at a bag of rice now. How much is it?
Things are getting too difficult. But we still try to keep body and soul together. Where do we run to?” Like Wonuola, many Nigerians are turning to alternatives like sawdust, charcoal, firewood to stave off what they desricibe as the crunching effect of the ballooning cost of gas.
This is in defiance to warning by environment and health experts of the debilitating effects. In a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), it was revealed that over 95,000 women die in Nigeria annually from the use of firewood. It further stated that, “if a woman inhales smoke while cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is equivalent to smoking between three and 20 packets of cigarettes a day”.
Also, Kirk Smith, a Professor of Global Environmental Health at the University of California at Berkeley, had stated: “Having an open fire in your kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour in your kitchen.” In what appears to explain the reason for a shift from gas to dirty fuels, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had recently disclosed in a report that the average retail price of cooking gas increased by 83.62 per cent from N2, 057.71 in March 2021.
According to the bureau, Ekiti recorded the highest average price for refilling a 5kg cylinder of LPG with N4,200, closely followed by Niger with N4,163.33 and Imo with N4,150.00.
Also,Adamawa recorded the lowest average price with N2,604.01, while Yobe and Kano had N2,740.00 and N3,300.00 respectively. Meanwhile, the NBS further revealed that the average retail price for refilling a 5kg cylinder of cooking gas was highest in the South-East with N3,992.56. The South-West, it added, followed with N3,900.55 and South-South, N3,877.08. The North-East, however, recorded the lowest average retail price with N3,419.37.
Average price of cooking gas in some states as of June 2022
A market research by Sunday Telegraph in Lagos and Ogun states revealed that the average price of cooking gas, as sold by retailers, stands at N900 per kilogramme as of June 2022, even when prices differ in filling stations from state to state.Though subject to changes due to changing prices across states, below are the current prices:
Cylinder (kg) Current Price
2kg N1, 800
Not just a Nigerian problem
the first time, the average price for a gallon of gas exceeded $4 in all 50 American states, AAA data shows. Over the first three months of the year, the U.S. consumed about 8.4 million barrels of gas per day; but over the summer months, that consumption will rise to 9.2 million barrels per day, an increase of nearly 10 per cent, according to the US Energy Information Administration, or IEA.
The convergence between the shortage of supply and the increase in demand has sent gasoline prices skyrocketing, McNally, the global lead for energy, said. ABC NEWS reports that gas prices could rise even higher over the coming weeks as the summer travel boom brings more people to the pump.
The spike in demand coincides with a shortage of crude oil supply amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which prompted a widespread industry exit from Russia that has pushed millions of barrels of oil off the market, it added. International gas prices have, according to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies ,experienced a roller coaster ride in the past year from historic lows to unprecedented highs.
Analysing the drivers behind pricing fluctuation, the OIES said: “In order to avoid the distorting effects of the COVID- 19 pandemic in 2020, we compare the year to date (January-August) 2021 with the same period in 2019.
On the global LNG market, the supply-side increase in nameplate export capacity was offset by outages at a number of export plants. By contrast, LNG demand outside Europe surged. This meant that growth in supply simply did not keep pace with the increase in demand.
With Europe as the ‘balancing market’ for global LNG, its role as the absorber of excess volumes in 2019 was reversed in 2021, as European LNG imports declined. On the European market, the decline in LNG imports was accompanied by a decline in European production and pipeline imports from regional suppliers, most notably Russia.”
Speaking on the danger posed by cooking with dirty fuels, a medical practitioner, Dr Adetola Adekunle, opined that the vast majority of households in lowincome countries cook with firewood, which is known to produce various airborne toxins. According to him, studies showed that individuals living in households that cook with firewood have 9.4 per cent lower lung capacity than those that cook with cleaner fuels.
“This impact is larger for women and children than for men. The results strongly support the international policy focus on facilitating households to switch to cooking with cleaner fuels. You see,cooking with non-clean fuels causes various health problems; women and children are especially affected by indoor pollution as they have the most frequent exposure.And, women using biomass fuel for cooking are significantly associated with self-reported ophthalmic, respiratory, cardiovascular, and dermatological symptoms.”
Corroborating Adekunle’s position on the adverse effects of non-clean fuels at the third edition of Energy Leader’s Dialogue, Arinola Ganiu, a Professor of Immunology at the University College Hospital, UCH Ibadan, says studies have shown that exposure to biomass smoke adversely affects health as women experience more adverse pregnancy outcomes, adding that cooking with wood is associated with increased odds of asthma symptoms.
The results of the study, he said, showed the need to improve nutrition during pregnancy and to strengthen and formulate policies to replace kerosene as cooking and household fuel with much cleaner fuels.
Stories of angry Nigerians
Baring her mind on how her family copes with the rising cost of gas, Mrs Dosunmu Ajoke, lamented the hardship precipitated by the rising price of cooking gas, calling on governments at all levels to intervene fast. “Please tell them we are suffering.
We can’t even buy food, let alone cooking gas. We are suffering. I’ve decided to keep my cylinder somewhere. I now depend on charcoal and firewood. I’m tired of this country.The hardship here is now unbearable,” she added.
For Mrs Romoke Sopitan, though it is important to address the rising price of gas, it is more important to charge President Mohammadu Buhari to stop the ongoing killings across Nigeria. ” Only the living can eat. I’m worried about the killings in Nigeria. See killings everywhere. That’s what you people should be talking about.
” Is switch to solid fuels increasing the price of charcoal?
On CMD road in the Ikosi-Ketu area of Lagos is the restaurant of Mrs Victoria Ajakaye( not real name) . Reacting to the accusation by a patron that lamented bitterly about what he described as ‘expensive food’ when Sunday Telegraph visited, Ajakaye said: ” See, you won’t blame us. Blame the rising cost of everything. My landlord here has increased rent.
The price of gas is spiralling every day.Even charcoal is now expensive. I used to buy a bag of charcoal for N3,500. It’s now N5,000. So how exactly do we make profit? I see many restaurant owners closing shop. It’s not our fault.” Meanwhile, a background check by Sunday Telegraph showed that a bag a charcoal sells for between N4,500 and N5,000. Asked the reason for selling at N5,000 , a dealer in the Mowe area of Ogun State, said:”About 7 or 8 months ago,we sold a bag for about N3,700 and N3,800, but that was then.
It’s becoming more difficult to get charcoal due to the fact that it is not as easy as it used to be to bring down trees. Of course, you have to transport them and you know how everything is now expensive. Even the bribes we give on the road.” Govt can help Nigerians on affordable renewable energy – REAN President,Segun Adaju In an interview with Sunday Telegraph, President, Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria( REAN), Mr Segun Adaju, said it was possible for Nigeria to create a business model that would make alternatives to cooking gas affordable without necessarily resorting to solid fuels.
He blamed the embrace of dirty fuels by Nigerians owing to the rising cost of gas to lack of awareness of the importance of alternative sources of energy. “It is true that people are moving away from gas. It is expensive and people are going back to solid fuels.The global price of gas has also shot up. Of course, it is more profitable to sell outside than to sell locally.
The reason people are going back to solid fuels is basically because of lack of awareness.There are clean cooking stoves. They are energy-efficient.There is solar stove. I saw one in Kigali sometime ago. People are not aware of this technology. “They believe it’s cheaper to go to the bush and cut down trees to cook. These are some of the constraints. We need to create awareness about the available alternatives. We also need to create a business model that allows people to pay in instalments.
That way, it can be more affordable. Government needs to create an enabling environment for business people to come into the sector. “For example, in the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria, one of the challenges we have is that we don’t get incentives from the government in terms of tax holidays, duty waivers and so on.
If government can provide the needed support, I can assure you that invesstors will be attracted and you can be sure that that will translate to cheaper alternative sources of energy.”
Meanwhile, experts have warned that burning solid fuel releases a large amount of carbon dioxide, which is known as a greenhouse gas, into the air. This, they say, causes a depletion of the airspace and global warming. Also, the United Nations had in a report warned that by 2030, it is estimated that up to 118 million extremely poor people will be exposed to drought, floods, and extreme heat in Africa, if adequate response measures were not put in place.
Solving distribution problem’ll crash gas price by 50 percent – Expert
Contrary to the argument in some quarters that Nigeria is not importing enough gas that will cater for local consumption, a consultant and Economics lecturer in the University of Lagos, Dr Babatope Ogunniyi, told Sunday Telegraph that distribution was at the core of the rising price of gas in Nigeria. According to him, Nigeria has excess of cooking gas to cater for Nigerians and neigbouring countries.
“In a way, we have three major depots in Nigeria – Lagos, Port Harcourt and Calabar. The issue we have is that of distribution and the global trend of the price of dollar. The issue is not production. Now, they have standardised their production using dollar as a unit of account and that is the danger. In buying and selling, they get materials that are not being provided locally to produce this gas. “For this reason, they have to dance to the tune of that currency.
So, if the currency is going up and coming down, it’s going to affect them. On the issue of distribution, in Lagos depot, they have enough that can serve Southwest and beyond but they are not at a level they can take that burden upon themselves. If there is another depot in Ilorin, Sokoto and other places, whereby it is easy to move these things without having to go through haulage of transporting it, the thing can reach Ilorin under 20 minutes.
I’m consulting for a company in America on this gas issue. “That’s why I said I have some privileged information about this issue.The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas is looking for those who will help with distribution. They have enough. At a point, they had to take the gas to neighbouring countries because they can’t produce if they don’t dispose what they have.There won’t be anywhere to keep what they produce.
The ripple effect of the war is another problem we are facing. In economics, we say poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere. “War anywhere around the globe is threat to prosperity across the world. The government has no hand in it. Those who can afford, let them use it.
Those who cannot afford, let them seek alternatives. And the alternatives are not even affordable. So, we need a well structured distribution system. Once we solve distribution problem, the price of gas will crash by 50 per cent. The main areas of concern in production of gas are maintenance, technical and distribution. The first two are not the problem.We need to get distribution right,” he explained.