Solar power seems to be accelerating in Nigeria, with successful solar models being replicated in select rural areas.On Wednesday, the Bank of Industry’s (BoI) acting managing director, Waheed Olagunju, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a cost sharing agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to replicate it's solar electrification scheme in other states in the West African country.
According to UNDP country representative, Mandisa Mashologu, the partnership will scale up solar power developments and provide more communities with access to cheap power, local media Vanguard reported.
According to the media, under the pact, Bol has committed to provide $1.4 million for the scheme, while the UNDP will provide the balance of $600,000.
Olagunju commented: “The blend of BoI’s contribution in the sum of $1.4 million as debt financing for the projects, with UNDP’s grant contribution of $600,000 will provide the much needed stimulus to scale up the projects in view of the attendant reduction in the cost of deployment and solar electrification projects enhancement of its overall viability.”
Solar electrification projects
The project commenced in 2015 with a pilot phase, in which the first set of low-cost off-grid solar electrification projects were deployed in one community in each of the six geopolitical zones, in partnership with GVE Projects Limited and Arnergy Solar Limited.
“The pilot project involved the provision of long-term financing for the installation of micro-grid and stand-alone solar solutions in Bisanti community, Katcha LGA in Niger State, Idi-Ita/Onibambu community, Ife North LGA in Osun State, Kolwa community, Kaltungo LGA in Gombe State, Onono community, Anambra West LGA in Anambra State, Obayantor 1 community in Edo State and Charwa/Chakun communities, Makarfi LGA in Kaduna State.
“These projects were commissioned in record time between 6 October 2015, and 24 May 2016,” Olagunju said.
He further explained that BoI’s contribution and the UNDP grant would be deployed to provide solar energy solutions to states where both BoI and UNDP had existing collaboration, media reported.
Olagunju said the pilot solar electrification projects in Gombe, Niger, Osun, Anambra, Edo and Kaduna states, was aimed at giving rural communities the opportunity to take control of their energy generation and also pay for only the energy used.
Media quoted Olagunju suggesting that in order for Nigeria to meet its energy needs, it must diversify it's energy mix to include solar, which he said is in abundance.
Solar energy for economic development
Olagunju maintained that solar power could be utilised to provide the much needed electricity for the nations’ rural communities, rather than waiting for the national grid to get to these areas.
However, he said the Development Finance Institution’s medium term vision was to have an estimated 100,000 homes installed with stand-alone solar home systems, pointing out that this move was essentially a programme aimed at poverty alleviation, reduction in rural-urban migration to foster rural economic development, media reported
“We are all aware that power remains a major obstacle to growth in Nigeria, as inadequate and unreliable electricity undermines investment opportunity, economic growth, social and infrastructure developments,” he said.
He added that the central power generation, transmission and distribution system operational in the country could no longer deliver competitive, cheap and reliable electricity to remote customers on and off the national grid.
It is reported that Olagunju also said scaling this pilot project across 774 local government of Nigeria with 10 micro-grids installed in each local government would generate 300MW of uninterrupted electricity, which he noted could devoid of sabotage or pipeline vandalism.