By Bassey Udo
No fewer than 267 agreements for the execution of various projects valued at about $395 million were sealed to supply electricity to unserved and underserved Nigerians,the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has said.
The agency said the projects were for execution under the Nigeria Electrification projects, (NEP) programme funded by a $350 million World Bank loan and $200 million loan from the African Development Bank, AfDB has so far provided electricity of five million.
The agency said about $64.8 million of the commitments have been disbursed to private sector partners for the execution of the projects.
REA Managing Director, Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad who disclosed this in Abuja on Monday said the programme was expected to provide off-grid, reliable and clean and electricity supply to 705,000 households, 90,000 micro, small and medium enterprises, 100 isolation and treatment centres and 400 primary healthcare centres in unserved and underserved areas of the country.
Ahmad explained that over the years, REA moved from being just an implementer of Federal Government’s projects in the sector to becoming a hub and enabler of businesses in the sector.
The agreements signed with private developers, he said, led to over a million connections across the country.
“The REA has the mandate of taking power to unserved and underserved Nigerians. How it goes about doing this depends on where the funding is coming from. In line with the rural electrification strategy plan, we have targets to reach Nigerians everywhere in the country, and the numbers at the moment are being quoted to be as high as 80 million people,” he said.
To achieve the target, he said a lot of funding was required, adding: “What we are used to doing is, every year, we wait and get government’s money from the budget, go to the site and then implement the projects. “However, if we are to do this for the next 100 years, we will not be able to meet those targets, hence it became important for the agency to ensure that its mandate does end at implementation”.
He explained that with the Rural Electrification Fund, which is a private sector driven initiative, REA became a hub and enabler to ensure that funding came from different areas to enable it to deliver on its mandate.
“Now, government money is used as an enabler to attract private investments. For instance, for the rural electrification fund, we have a capital subsidy where, if a project cost N100 million, that subsidy will come in at, may be, 50-60 percent, and the private developer will come up with the rest of the money, deliver the service to the community and go into an agreement with the community for the rest of the money,” he said.
Giving a breakdown on the NEP programme, Anita Otubu explained that the Nigeria Electrification Project have five components, including solar hybrid mini-grid ($213m), standalone solar home systems ($75m), energizing education programme ($250m), energy efficient equipment and productive use of appliances ($20m) and Technical assistance ($37m).
Otubu disclosed that so far 67 mini-grids have been completed with 995,396 solar home systems deployed, adding that so far 1,151 jobs have been created in different parts of the country through the programme.