By Franklin Alli
TWO weeks ago, United Nations Development Programmes, UNDP, and the Bank of Industry, BOI, empowered two local firms in the renewable energy sector with loans totaling over N160 million, to connect Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to 1, 200 houses in remote villages that have not been reached by national grids.
As a pilot test, these communities, with an average of 200 homes each, are located in Anambra, Delta, Gombe, Kaduna, Niger and Osun States.
Vanguard learned that GVE Projects Limited and Arnergy Solar Limited), the project contractors are in the process of purchasing the meters from MOMAS, and the solar panels from NASENI. Hopefully, these communities will be lighted from September this year after installation is completed.
Rasheed Olaoluwa, Managing Director, BOI noted: “ We are giving people in these communities the chance to increase their living standards, develop their businesses and add value to the economy of their areas if they can pay N50 per day or N3, 000 per month for the use of electricity provided by solar panels installed on their houses.
“Rather than wait in vain forever for the national electricity grid to reach them, there is a golden opportunity for our rural communities to be empowered with affordable off-grid solar home systems that are operated on a Pay –As- You- Go basis.”
According to him, UNDP has budgeted $4.8 million for the projects in Nigeria, and has so far released $1.6 million to the bank for implementation of the programme.
“We are starting off with the provision of long-term financing for the installation of off-grid solar home systems in six (6) communities in a Pilot Phase. Each home will have sufficient solar energy to power three LED light bulbs, one electric fan, one Radio/TV set and, of course, mobile phone charging.
These are the basic energy needs of the average rural family. What we are initiating is a commercially sound model for delivering power to Nigerian rural homes at affordable rates, to provide a long-term alternative to the problematic national grid.
“We want our rural communities to take control of their energy generation and to pay only for the energy they use. Our medium-term vision is to have 100,000 homes installed with solar systems in the next 5 years, through a combination of micro-grid and stand-alone solar home systems,” he said.
According to him, in the USA, the leading solar energy company, Solar City, has installed over 500,000 solar home systems. Every three minutes, a new home is switched to Solar City.
Simpa Networks, in India, and M-Kopa, in Kenya, have introduced the “pay-as-you-go” pre-paid technology in their offering of off-grid rural solar home systems.
Joseph Babatunde, Divisional Head, Large Enterprise, BOI, added: “In the first phase, we are starting with Niger and Osun; from there we are moving to Kaduna and Gombe second phase. The third phase is going to cover Anambra and Delta. An effort is being made to search out for suitable locations in these two states.
With just the solar panel installed upon thatch roofs power will be supplied to that place and they can run their Television set, radio, charge their phones and do quite a number of things. With an initial cost of N3, 000 per month for the stand alone, we expect an average daily charge of N50 which I believe is affordable.”