Path to Net Zero in Nigerian Cement Sector

Demand for cement in most Sub-Saharan African countries is set to triple by 2050

  • News 28.02.2023

Nigeria is Africa's second largest cement producer and could be on course to be one of the top producers in the world. The cement sector contributes significantly to the growth of the country's manufacturing and non-oil sectors and the country's energy and climate goals see a central role for the sector in the transition to a net zero economy. But there is currently a lack of detailed emission scenario studies that assess the feasibility and pathways for achieving deep decarbonisation of cement production in specific African countries. Research in the area suffers from data inadequacies and limitations in gaining access to expert knowledge that is available but fragmented.

Maria Yetano Roche, Researcher in the Research Unit International Energy Transitions at the Wuppertal Institute, addresses this topic with her recent article "Built for net-zero: analysis of long-term greenhouse gas emission pathways for the Nigerian cement sector" recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Cleaner Production. She identifies plausible futures for the development of the sector in Nigeria, analyses underlying drivers of demand such as demographics and economic growth, and assesses the potential for decarbonisation (e.g. more efficient processes, cleaner fuels, carbon capture, demand management). The results show that in all scenarios Nigeria's demand for cement triples by 2050. However, due to the strong population growth, demand per capita grows only by 27 per cent to 151 kg per capita in 2050, which is still significantly lower than the value in other emerging economies. The author suggests an ambitious yet feasible scenario which will lead to emissions peaking in 2023 and will result in an overall increase of only 21 per cent by 2050 compared to 2015 emissions. This puts the sector on a path towards net zero in the second half of the century.

Nigeria's cement plant fleet stock today is very young but, at the same time, much of the 2050 stock is yet to be built. There is a window of opportunity for investments in the mid-2020s. Future research should quantify the investment needs and identify the exact time frame for upgrading and retrofitting each of Nigeria's cement plants. An investment plan will help prioritise and attract the considerable financing needed to support mature technologies (e.g. clinker substitutes), non-commercial technologies (e.g. Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS), and new value chains (e.g. bioenergy).

This research was supported by the Nigerian Energy Support Programme – a technical assistance programme co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Power (FMP) by the Friends of the Wuppertal Institute association, and the doctoral funding programme of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. 

The article "Built for net-zero: analysis of long-term greenhouse gas emission pathways for the Nigerian cement sector" has been published in the Journal of Cleaner Production Volume 383 as an open access publication. The article and the underlying dataset are available free of charge via the following link.

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