By Nkechi Isaac, Abuja
It is no longer news that a significant amount of rural community dwellers is not captured in the nation’s power grid. These local community dwellers therefore depend heavily on unsustainable methods to meet their lighting and thermal needs.
The world is currently advocating for more environmentally friendly and sustainable means of power generation like renewable energy such as biomass, wind and solar to generate power and save the earth from the negative effects of climate change.
Keying into the development, the Federal Government is pushing for ways of developing more efficient ways of power generation to carter for those not captured in the national grid.
In fulfilling this quest, government through the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructures (NASENI) established the Karshi Solar Panel Plant to engage in local production of solar energy systems across the country.
The 7.5 megawatts (mw) solar panel manufacturing factory established in 2011 which started as part of research and development was turned into a limited liability in 2013 after the pilot stage demonstration of building solar panels in the country.
This was with a view to getting the private sector to take over the plant and fast track the production and deployment of solar panels to all parts of the country.
Despite the potentials of the plant, regretfully, the private sector is yet to toe the line in terms of taking over and running this company for the benefit of the entire country, six years down the line.
Speaking to journalists on this development on the sidelines of the celebration day of Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASENI branch in Abuja, the executive vice chairman of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna, said the private sector was still studying the balance sheet, the final account, the performance of the factory to ascertain the profitability and its viability.
“We had wanted the private sector to take over this power plant from day one. We didn’t earlier want to convert it to limited liability company. We searched for the private sector to take it over after we have launched it successfully and produced the first batch of solar panel from there. But what we realised is that the private sector wants to see annual performance report. They want to study the balance sheet, the final account, the performance of the factory over the period of time, for them to ascertain the profitability and its viability. That is why government has given approval that it should be run as limited liability company so that the private sector willing to take that can see the scorecards.
“As the minister had earlier declared that the government is willing to share it with the private sector that is willing, I’m sure that as soon as any private sector comes, government will make arrangements to finalise that. We wouldn’t mind even if it is today. However, even if the private sector is taking that over, we will continue to do research for more innovative products that either another group or the private sector if willing, we will allow them to come and take it to the market because we are steadfast in doing our research and innovations, they are doing marketing,” he stated.
Haruna added that the local content development such as the one carried out in the plant could be expanded to contribute more in the nation’s power sector and invariably help government in making power available to all.
“The plant itself is a demonstration that it is possible to do it in Nigeria. The plant itself is only 7.5 megawatts. With support, we can expand it to 50 megawatts or more and duplicate it elsewhere. Importantly, what we had been deliberating on for long time is to ensure that we produce all needed materials, especially the solar cells locally. And when the raw materials are available, our country can own our solar company,” he added.
Earlier, the NASENI helmsman received an award from NASU, NASENI chapter as the best performing chief executive since inception of the institute alongside other directors of the institute for their outstanding performance.
Speaking shortly after presenting the award to Haruna, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi commended the union for maintaining peace and harmony with the management, saying the reward for hard work and recognition is more hard work.
In his remarks, the general-secretary of NASU, Peters Adeyemi told the gathering that the NASENI CEO had done well in the area of carrying along members of his union through frequent dialogue, transparency which had been enhancing harmonious relationship in the agency.