By Funmi Olasupo
The need to impact on the lives of thousands of people that are not connected to the national grid in remote villages across the country gave birth to the partnership for power generation through its Solar Energy to improve their living standard.
In this regard, the Bank of Industry, BoI, and the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, are providing a long-term financing for the installation of off-grid solar home systems in six communities in a pilot phase.
The decision of BoI to fund renewable energy project, environment experts said, is in line with the policy direction of the present administration.
To this end, experts in the energy sector have called for the replication of such project across the country.
Recently, President Mohammadu Buhari, had during the just concluded Nigeria Alternative Power Expo, NAPE, called on investors in the power sector to shift emphasis towards environmentally friendly alternative sources of power generation in order to protect the ecosystem.
Apart from the already commissioned 24KW micro-grid solar electrification each in Bisanti, a remote village in Katcha Local Government Area of Niger State, and in Ife-North LGA in Osun State, the project is to be replicated in four other communities. They include Ogbekpen, Ikpoba in Okha LGA, Edo State; Kolwa Kaltunga LGA, in Gombe State; Onono, Anambra West LGA, in Anambra State; and Carwa/Cakum, Markarfi LGA, in Kano State.
The over 200 rural dwellers in each of the communities that were captured in the project are expected to have sufficient solar electricity to power three LED light bulbs, one electric fan, one radio/TV set and Mobil phone charging. Unlike in the grid system in which electricity bill is by fiat, the solar power system will be anchored on ‘Pay-as-You-Go prepaid technology.
Speaking during the commissioning, the BoI Managing Director, Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa, noted that the need to impact on the lives of thousands of people that are not connected to the national grid in remote villages in the country was the driving force behind the project.
According to him, the rural electrification solution would not only help in reducing rural-urban migration, it would also help preserve the lives of the people as well as the ecosystem.
He said: “Those that are worse hit by the current electricity situation in the country are the rural communities, especially the off-grid areas which have always been without electricity and have resigned their fate to the use of kerosene lanterns, oil lamps and other types of dangerous and unhealthy sources of light to be able to live their daily lives.
“Firstly, the installation of off-grid solar home systems in the two communities will help developing the communities. Secondly, we can begin to see a slowdown in rural urban migration, and possibly a reversal. It is a model we are deploying in six communities across the six geopolitical zones.
“Solar is a green energy that relies on energy from the sun. The solar panel stores energy and the one that is not used during the day is stored in a battery. It is a self-sustaining model, environmentally friendly and we are proud to be supportive of the process.”
Olaoluwa said the bank’s medium term vision is to install solar systems through the combination of micro-grid and stand-alone solar systems in 100,000 homes in the next five years. He also expressed his readiness to partner with state governments and private investors with a view to replicating the project in other communities across the country.
While urging the nation to tap into the abundance renewable energy sources in Nigeria, he emphasized that “Renewable energy such as hydro, wind and solar are growing in relevance and commercial adoption on a global scale. The critical role of renewable energy was reemphasized at the G7 Summit which held in June2015, where the leading industrial nations agreed to decarbonise the global economy by phasing out the use of fossil fuels by the end of this century.”