BusinessDay

Smart energy and environmental protection

Nigeria has been undergoing an economic crisis for a while now and one of the factors responsible for this is the lack of power for production and domestic use. A power cut has been the norm rather than the exception.

The implication of this is that there is an over-reliance on other sources of electricity to run any business in the country or do anything for that matter. Generators have become so commonplace and ‘normal’ in Nigeria that I do not recall any conversation ever, on how actually effective, safe and environmentally friendly these generators are. It is almost unheard of, not to have a generator to provide your own power, especially in all of Nigeria’s urban centres.

Generators have allowed businesses to function, especially small businesses given the number of people involved in small businesses such as tailoring, vulcanizing, barbing, and hairdressing. Also, big businesses are affected by this problem, leading to increased costs, often passed on to the consumers or customers.

While generators provide a convenient and accessible alternative source of power, there are risks associated with using generators on a long-term basis. The number one risk is the inhalation of carbon monoxide and the effects – short or long-term.

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The immediate effect is that inhaling carbon monoxide can lead to fatality. Stories abound of people who have developed health issues as a result of carbon monoxide inhalation. Long-term effects include impact on memory, brain function and behavior. Have we ever imagined how much carbon monoxide is being released into the air and how that can affect our health?

This brings me to my point. How can businesses begin to look at their practices and focus their corporate social responsibility on the environment; how can they help government to not only develop safe and alternative sources of energy, support research on the impact of carbon monoxide inhalation on health, but also actually begin to develop their own medium term plans on how to wean their companies off generators, and promote alternative sources of energy for their use?

While the former two will involve businesses coming together with government research institutes to fund such initiatives and support government, the latter can start immediately. As back up to generators, companies can increase their investments in alternative sources of energy for their businesses.

While this may be more expensive or not yet feasible for manufacturing companies, other businesses like banks can start immediately. Solar energy, as an alternative, can be used to back up generators and power appliances that do not use a lot of energy.

These include energy saving bulbs, computers etc. which will make the businesses function. Reduced reliance on generators will, in the long term, save cost, improve the environment and ultimately improve health and save lives.