Nigerians Turn to Firewood and Charcoal as Gas Prices Surge
Nigerians are turning to the use of firewood and charcoal for cooking due to a surge in the price of liquefied petroleum gas, retailers of the product said in an open letter to the government.
A variety of factors are discouraging LPG imports, which account for 65% of the market. This has resulted in excess demand for domestic supplies, the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers said Monday. Customers are currently paying more than triple what they were charged in January, with a 12.5-kilogram cylinder now costing up to 10,200 naira ($25), the group, also known as NALPGAM, said.
The “galloping prices” mean Nigerians “are reverting to the use of kerosene, charcoal and firewood” despite the “obvious health and environmental implications,” NALPGAM said in an open letter to the minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva.
While Nigeria is Africa’s largest crude producer, with even more abundant gas reserves, most of its gas output is burned off as a waste product or re-injected into wells due to lack of infrastructure to exploit the resource. Only about 17% of the population cook with gas with the majority of households dependent on firewood- or charcoal-fueled stoves, according to a 2020 report by the country’s statistics agency.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari last week made a plea for international financing for “transition fuels,” such as gas, that will help countries like Nigeria move towards renewable energy. Gas “will be key for addressing the clean cooking challenge” and reducing deforestation, as well as solving the country’s chronic shortage of electricity, he told the COP26 conference in Glasgow on Nov. 2.
Importers have “virtually stopped” bringing in LPG due to challenges with accessing foreign-exchange, rising international gas prices and anticipation that value-added tax and customs duties will be reimposed, according to NALPGAM. In the meantime, prices continue to climb in Nigeria “without any signs of abatement,” it said.
The group called on the central bank to ensure steady dollar supply to LPG importers and told the government to suspend the planned reintroduction of VAT and customs duties.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.