By Clean Technology Hub Executive Director Ifeoma Malo and Senior Analyst Wole Hammond
The economic development of communities is heavily dependent on energy access; however, many rural settlements remain unconnected to the national electric grid.
Onono-Anam in Anambra State, Nigeria is one such community, where the lack of electricity has adversely affected the social, health and economic life of the inhabitants of this community who are largely smallholder farmers and petty traders.
Only a handful of the 500 homes in this rural community can afford small generators to meet some of their energy needs, whilst the other inhabitants mainly rely on smoky kerosene lamps and fuel wood.
However, the launch of a 24kW solar mini-grid in 2016 ushered a new era of unlimited power supply which culminated in improved socio-economic wellbeing for Onono-Anam. Several homes are now powered by solar energy; agro-processing now thrives in the community, and night time security has been enhanced.
Over 50 direct and indirect jobs have been created during the project implementation, alongside knowledge transfer, as some of the inhabitants are still involved in post-installation operations. The positive impact of this project has resulted in the installation of an additional mini-grid to serve an additional 300 households in Onono and surrounding communities of Okpechalla, Atachile and Okilo.
Energy access for improved health
Up North in Bisanti, Niger state, the installation of a 40kW solar mini-grid was made possible through a partnership with the Bank of Industry, the United Nations Development Program, and the Institute of Electrical Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
This mini-grid installation has been of immense benefit to the community. Over 300 households and approximately 1,600 people are now connected to the grid. Residents who ran petrol-powered generators for as much as N600 naira for 3 litres could now access 24-hour power supply for 44.5% for that same amount.
Security and social interactions also have greatly improved, and the Primary Healthcare Centre in the community has recorded a 60% reduction in malaria cases in the community.
Many of the residents in this community attest to improvements in their health and well-being as they can use electric fans to sleep comfortably at night despite the heat and humidity synonymous to the region. The local economy has further blossomed as 35 micro, small and medium enterprises have been connected to the mini-grid, and farmers can now irrigate rice farms and earn more money.
The overarching desire of Green Village Electric Projects Limited is to see economic growth and improved social well-being in communities, without compromising environmental sustainability.
In Akpabom, Akwa Ibom State where a 100kW mini-grid was installed, sponsored by the Rural Electrification Fund and All On, businesses and can now run for longer with reduced cost often spent in the past on diesel or petrol for generators. Energy-related spend is now down by 40%.
As a coastal settlement, Akpabom’s fishermen have reduced post-harvest loss as the uninterrupted power supply avails them the opportunity to preserve fishes thereby yielding more income.
The social impact of the projects has resulted in improved quality of life. In Akpabom, there is a 68% downfall in malaria cases experienced in the community, and children could study and play more with the help of street lighting.
Goal: clean and affordable energy for all
As an industry leader, Green Village Electric (GVE) Projects Limited is at the forefront of providing clean and sustainable energy solutions to unserved and underserved rural communities. They also offer off-grid renewable energy solutions to commercial users – such as healthcare, agro-businesses – and residential users. GVE Projects has grown from a student-led idea in 2009 to a company with a staff strength of over 40 employees, serving over 8,984 households across the nation.
The company recently signed the first interconnected mini-grid tripartite agreement in Africa with the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Plc and Wuse Market Association to Develop a 1MW PV Solar Hybrid system for Wuse Market, Abuja – Nigeria.
Through seed funding, grants, equity/debt financing by organisations such as the IEEE, USADF, USAID, GE Africa, European Union, All On, Rural Electrification Agency/Rural Electrification Fund, UNDP, and the Bank of Industry, GVE has successfully implemented 13 mini-grid projects across the country with new projects in the pipeline Plateau, Rivers, Kogi, Anambra and the FCT.
GVE hopes towards achieving SDG7 – affordable and clean energy for all – while putting smiles on people’s faces, this they have been doing across various communities like Bisanti, Kolwa, Onono, Kolaku, and Egbeke. The company’s target is to serve 3.6 million people in Nigeria and expand into the West African market over the next few years.