By Tobias Pius
The Federal Government has its sights set on generating N7 billion in taxes and $10 million in import substitution every year from developing and providing decentralized solar power connections that will offer energy access to 5 million households, or about 25 million Nigerian citizens.
This initiative will come through the Solar Power Naija initiative the World Bank has agreed to jump in on to the tune of N140 billion ($367 million) as support in form of solar kits provision to be payable in three years’ time.
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA), the implementing agency, gave an assurance that this will highly benefit the citizenry and also catalyze economic activities for the benefitting communities if implemented properly, especially as the solar mini-grid programme has a projection to incentivise 250,000 new jobs for the energy sector.
The REA also pointed out that the programme will boost local content in the off-grid solar value chain and propel the growth of the nation’s local manufacturing and assembly industry, as well as support ongoing recovery efforts to push Nigeria’s economic sustainability plan, implemented by the government to revive the nation’s economy concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo noted that the solar connection intervention facility from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will also complement this, conforming to the federal government’s efforts to provide affordable electricity to unserved rural communities.
“The Nigerian government is committed to resolving the challenges and delivering the president’s objective to deliver efficient, stable, and reliable power to Nigerians and put Nigeria on the path to economic recovery,” Osinbajo said.
This drive, Osinbajo pointed out, will come through provision of long-term low interest credit facilities to the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) pre-qualified SHS distributors and mini grid development companies.
Ahmad Salihijo, managing director, REA, reiterated that the “Solar Power Naija Programme,” will reduce the doubts surrounding the mention of access to affordable finance through the CBN facility, which makes low-cost local currency debt available to qualified companies.
“I want to encourage other stakeholders from government agencies to donor partners to the private sector, to support us in achieving this huge task of delivering five million connections to 25 million Nigerians,” Salihijo said.
He further enjoined that “Companies involved in the assembly and manufacturing of components of off-grid solar solutions must be 70 per cent Nigerian owned as the entire ESP should facilitate and spur local productivity.
“As the implementing agency of the programme under the supervision of the ministry of power, this further shows government’s commitment towards supporting the private sector to develop decentralised energy solutions in locations where the grid is not viable or service is inadequate, and I want to once again encourage private companies to take advantage of this intervention and work with us towards achieving the set targets under the programme,” the REA boss said.
The solar equipment is eligible for Nigerians not connected to the national electricity grid, those living in rural areas, and the ones in peri-urban areas not supplied with electricity. Recipients will purchase it by paying N500 – N4,000 ($1.3 – $10.5) each month over a 3-year period.
Solar Power Naija on leveraging the support from donor partners like the World Bank, USAID, SEforALL and FCDO in the areas of data on locations, programme design, manufacturing framework and quality assurance, can go ahead and provide support in making the off-grid sector commercially viable and also play a part in making electricity available and affordable to these off-grid Nigerians, while pushing the nation towards its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2030.