To boost grassroots electricity supply in the country, the Federal Government on Thursday announced plans to develop about 23 mini-grid electricity projects across 11 states of the federation.
The projects are to be executed under a €9.3million interconnected mini-grid acceleration scheme (IMAS) grant agreement signed with eight indigenous solar mini-grid developers.
The initiative would be coordinated by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) with support from the European Union and the German government through the Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP).
Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba, who disclosed this in Abuja at the grant award signing ceremony said when completed the projects, which are expected to generate a 5.4-kilowatt peak capacity and connected to about 27,600 households, would impact over 138,000 Nigerians in two years.
Jedy-Agba expressed delight with the initiative geared towards achieving the country’s vision of generating at least 30,000 megawatts of electricity by 2030.
The Minister who commended the management of REA for their efforts and actions towards ensuring power reaches the off-grid communities in the country, said the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was always open to opportunities that would help achieve accelerated electricity supply in Nigeria.
The development of the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy and Vision 30:30:30, he said, were aimed at achieving 30,000 MWs of electricity by the year 2030, with renewable energy contributing 30 percent of the energy mix.
To achieve this goal, he said Nigeria would have to construct over 1000 mini-grid electricity projects of about 100 KW capacity.
He admitted that government alone cannot achieve the target, adding that it was important to continue to find creative and innovative ways to achieve it.
One of such ways, he said, was through collaborating with development partners and the private sector.
“We understand that one of the major bottlenecks for the private sector’s involvement is financing, hence, the reason the NESP and REA have worked closely to develop and implement the Interconnected Mini-grid Acceleration Scheme.
The eight local solar mini-grid developers include Acob Lighting Technology Limited, Gve Projects, Nayo Tropical Technology Limited, Rubitec Nigeria Limited, Darway Coast Nigeria Limited, Havenhill Synergy Limited, Sosa-Protergia Joint Development Company Limited, and A4&T Power Solutions Limited.
They would receive in-kind grants through REA, with support of the European Union and the German Government within the framework of the NESP.
These eight solar mini-grid developers would develop mini-grids across eleven states, including Zamfara, Niger, Plateau, Kwara, Kogi, Osun, Ogun, Lagos, Delta, Anambra, and Cross River, the indigenous developers.
Earlier, the Managing Director of REA, Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad said the scheme was aimed at bridging the funding gap affecting indigenous developers in the renewable energy sector.
Ahmad expressed the hope that the signatures put down in the agrrement has set a precedent for the new and improved power and energy sector in Nigeria.
“As an agency, we encourage investors to explore the solar mini-grid sector,” Ahmed said.
He however, said that finance would remain one major constraint to the the project, adding that why the Rural Electrification Agency, with the support of NESP, was working together to alleviate the bottleneck.
“We do this by providing in-kind grants to selected mini-grid developers on favourable and encouraging terms as contained in the Grant Agreement,” he said.
The MD explained that “the main objective of the intervention was to design and test a tender model for interconnected solar mini-grids, invariably leading to the foundation of the Scheme.
The good thing about the iMAS project, he said, was that we have ensured that all the developers were Nigerians. This is to say that the Nigerian energy sector has come a long way from what it used to be and we are proud of this,”he said.
Head of programme, NESP, Benjamin Duke, assured that his team would continue to work to build investors confidence in the sector by developing an accurate electricity market intelligence that would provide investors with accurate data about the country’s electricity needs.