By Bassey Udo
The Nigerian government is planning to launch the “Solar Power Naija Programme” under the present administration’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).
The programme ro be supervised directly by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, would be implemented by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) in partnership with the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).
The NSIA is an investment agency of the Federal Government established to manage funds in the excess crude oil revenue account to drive sustained economic development for the benefit of all Nigerians through building a savings base for the Nigerian people, enhancing the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure, and providing stabilisation support in times of economic stress.
The REA is the implementing agency of the Federal Government tasked with the electrification of rural and unserved communities in a way that would allow for a reasonable return on investment through an appropriate tariff that is economically responsive and supportive of the average rural customer.
Also, REA is mandated to promote rural electrification in the country; coordinate rural electrification programmes in the country, and administer the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) to promote, support, and provide rural electrification through public and private sector participation.
Under the “Solar Power Naija” partnership, the NSIA said it plans to invest in the off-grid renewable space in partnership with the REA to provide electricity to rural communities.
The NSIA-REA partnership, it was learnt, would see the NSIA creating an initial revolving fund of N10 billion for qualified developers to distribute and manufacture Solar Home Systems.
The fund would be accessible by Nigerian Electrification Programme qualified developers under the existing REA and World Bank scheme that guides technical qualification and provides grants for developers to invest and participate in off-grid Electrification projects.
The REA, under the Ministry of Power, would provide technical and advisory support to the NSIA as it rolls out the programme.
This investment by NSIA is targeted at catalysing over 200,000 off-grid connections in the first instance, with a goal of reaching over 500,000 systems as the Fund revolves and is expanded through to 2023.
The programme is estimated to also create up to 20,000 jobs across manufacturing, assembly, installation and retail over the period.
In addition, the partnership between NSIA and REA would help Nigeria meet its ESP target of increasing electrification, which is a step towards creating 5 million solar connections over the next few years.
On completion, it is expected that the investment would demonstrate locally that the solar off-grid space was an investable segment of the power market.
The MD/CEO of the REA, Ahmad Salihijo, ssid the partnership and the programme,,would be of immense benefits to the people in the rural communities.
“The partnership with NSIA is exciting in so many ways. We believe this investment commitment, as approved by the NSIA Board, is a harbinger for increased investments in the off-grid renewable space that will help Nigeria achieve its goals under COP 26 and eliminate the Electrification Gap in the country,” Salihijo said.
The MD/CEO of the NSIA, Uche Orji, also spoke in glowing terms of the partnership.
Orji said “NSIA continues to prioritize climate-smart infrastructure to create access to affordable power to Nigeria’s underserved communities, particularly in the rural areas.
NSIA recognizes the latent potential in these communities and believes that access to power is fundamentally important to enhancing the capacity of SMEs in these communities, to support the economic growth of the country and employment creation”.
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