The Chief Executive Officer,
MTN Nigeria Communications Limited
Victoria Island,

Dear Sir,

Our attention has been drawn to a joint statement by your company, Ericsson and the GSM Association (GSMA) to the effect that MTN Nigeria will adopt biofuel to power its base stations in the country.

The statement released to the international media late last year said MTN is embarking on the biofuel project in Nigeria “to demonstrate the potential of biofuels to replace diesel as a source of power for mobile base stations located beyond the reach of the electricity grid.”

The statement was categorical that MTN has commissioned pilot biofuel-powered base stations in Lagos, and that the scheme will later extend to rural regions of South- Eastern and Western Nigeria.

It was also stated that groundnuts, along with pumpkin seeds, jatropha and palm oil will be used in the initial pilot test.

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) is concerned that MTN is embarking on such project without any mention of the involvement of both the Nigerian regulatory authorities and host communities of the biofuel base stations.

We are also shocked that information about such project is coming via a statement issued by Erricson in far away Sweden while MTN Nigeria is keeping the Nigerian people in the dark.


We need to state clearly that the whole biofuel debate is enmeshed in controversies way beyond simplistic justifications like access to telecommunications that MTN and other project promoters want us to believe.

The MTN- Erricsson- GSMA statement was categorical that a supply chain will be set up to source a variety of locally produced crops for the production of biofuel. Our first concern is the implication of this on the food supply situation in Nigeria. Have you undertaken an assessment of the socio-economic, environmental as well as food security impacts that your biofuel impacts would have on Nigeria and Nigerians and how to mitigate such impacts? Who are the stakeholders you consulted on this major step? Which agencies of government endorsed this move?

If there are no such mitigation plans does MTN consider that hungry people will not patronize GSM service providers nor have the energy to make calls?

From the foregoing the Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria demand from MTN:

  • An open statement clearly explaining the MTN biofuel scheme and its sustainability.
  • An open commitment from MTN that it will not be used as proxy in the desperate attempt by biotech industries to introduce GMOs in Nigeria.

Finally, we like to stress that transforming Africa into a fuel factory is a huge threat on our food sovereignty and that Africans have the undeniable right to decide what to plant and how ; what food they want to eat and how.

We will always stand up to protect those rights.

Yours Faithfully

Nnimmo Bassey
Executive Director.

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