By Abah Adah, Abuja
The federal government yesterday hinted of its target to have 10, 000 mini-grids by which it will generate 3,000 megawatts (mw) of electricity to energise underserved off-grid communities across Nigeria by year 2020.
The Managing Director, Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi disclosed this at the on-going energy conference on Mini Grid in Abuja.
Mrs Ogunbiyi said the agency is securing $350 million from the World Bank for the purpose of rural electrification out of which $150m will go into funding the mini grid projects.
Courtesy of the World Bank’s Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) to be implemented by REA after its approval in April 2018, key mini grid projects are expected to serve 200,000 households and 50,000 local enterprises across Niger, Plateau, Kaduna and Rivers states.
Mrs Ogunbiyi who noted that 50 per cent of the Nigeria’s 180m population are not connected to the grid can be energised through mini grids that would involve private sector participation.
She said Nigerian businesses spend N40 billion every year to generate unstained electricity and that to reduce that, the REA is working with the private sector to provide off grid power supply strategies for the next five years starting from 2015.
According to the REA boss, “If investors can provide clean electricity to the 50 per cent unconnected Nigerians, there will be a potential of N9bn to be earned from Solar Home Systems (SHS) and mini grid systems.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola in his address said the conference was apt as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) recently signed the mini grid regulation to accelerate the electrification of rural areas that are far from grid using renewable energy sources.
“I think it is a great moment for Africa, for the sub region and it is a great moment for my country, Nigeria” while urging massive support for the efforts of the federal government in electrifying Nigeria,” the Minister noted.
In his remark, the Nigeria Country Director of World Bank, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud said it was the fourth time the international community is gathering to discuss energy access especially the mini grid solution with over 600 participants in the on-going edition hosted by Nigeria.
He said about one billion people lack access to electricity globally from which 600m are in sub-Saharan Africa and with 80m of them in Nigeria.
Represented by the Energy Access of the Bank, Mr Mac Cosgrove-Davis, Mr Benmessaoud who sought the collaboration of stakeholders in carrying out the projects said the Bank has over $3bn funding portfolio for Nigeria and that it is largely to help improve the power sector.