…Project yet to be completed in Edo, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, other States
By Udeme Akpan, Ediri Ejoh, Ogochukwu Alaribe, Abdulmumin Murtala
Electricity consumers in the markets – Sura (Lagos), Ariaria (Aba) and Sabon Gari (Kano) – have tasked service providers, for better deals, ranging from low tariff to extension of service to all parts of the markets. The three Independent Power Plants, IPPs, were initiated through Energizing Economies Initiative, EEI of the Rural Electrification Agency, REA, to ensure the rapid deployment of off-grid electricity solutions to Micro, Small, Medium Enterprise, MSME’s in economic clusters, including markets, shopping complexes and agricultural/industrial clusters, nationwide. An investigation by Vanguard, over the weekend, showed that the initiative, which started in September 2017, has since become operational, delivering power to users in the three States. However, business owners, who spoke with Vanguard, in different interviews in Ariaria, and Sabon Gari markets, complained of a relatively high tariff and the need to extend supply to all parts of the markets.
The Ariaria Market IPP, which has a gas plant, extensive distribution network and metering system for each shop, inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on 29th January 2019 is operated by Ariaria Market Energy Solutions, AMES, Limited. An investigation by Vanguard showed that the market has 11 sections and over 37,000 shops, of which only 4,000 shops have been connected. Traders, who spoke with Vanguard called on the operators of the IPP to fulfil its pledge of providing power to the over 37,000 shops at the entire market. According to them, the majority of the traders at the market still patronise private power providers, who mount generating sets to distribute power at a higher cost. In an interview with Vanguard, chairman of the National Association of Nigeria Traders, NANTS, Ariaria market chapter, Deacon Michael Aniorji, said: “I have met with some officials of the IPP in my capacity as the Chairman of NANTS in Ariaria market to appeal to them to review their pre-paid charges and usage. Those of us who buy the pre-paid card daily, we pay N240 per day, which amounts to N1, 440 for the six days that we do business in one week. This also amounts to N5, 760 monthly. Others in big shops pay higher.” The NANTS chairman explained that some private entrepreneurs who supply power to shops charge N800 per week which amounts to N3, 200 monthly, stressing that most of the traders are still patronizing the private providers because their services are more affordable. “I urge the operators of the Ariaria market IPP to reduce their charges because most of us do not have televisions, air conditioners or refrigerators in our shops. We do not consume much energy. He said: “Even though we use pre-paid meters, we cannot roll over daily the values in our cards to the next day. They expire and we have to buy another irrespective of the fact that we did not finish using our previous card.” A shoemaker at the market, Alfred Nwokike, added: “We are still making use of private power providers. Some of us who can afford generating sets are spending heavily to fuel and maintain them.” However, Head, Ariaria Market Energy Solutions Limited, AMESL, Mr Ubani Nkagineme, declined to comment on the various issues. Abia State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, said the Ariaria IPP, has made a positive impact on Small Medium Enterprises, SME, in Aba.
Sabon Gari IPP
An investigation by Vanguard at the market showed that Electricity power has been supplied to over 500 shops at the Sabon Gari market, Kano. However, shop owners, who have not yet been supplied with a power called on the Sabon Gari Energy Solutions, SGES, managers of the facility to work towards extending services to all parts of the market. They stated that those without supply have been generating their independent power at a higher cost, thus standing the risk of losing their businesses.
The Sura IPP, having the capacity to 1.5 megawatts, MW, was operating efficiently and delivering power to business owners at the market when Vanguard Correspondent visited Sura Shopping Complex, over the weekend. The facility, currently managed by Solad Power Holdings, aims at supporting the rapid deployment of off-grid electricity solutions to micro, small and medium enterprises within economic clusters (such as markets, shopping complexes and agricultural/industrial clusters) through private sector developers.
However, Vanguard noted that stakeholders have been slow in developing similar IPPs in other locations.
Under phase one of the programme, power supply was to be provided to other markets, including KatinKwari market, Fagge, Kano State, Edaiken Market, Benin, Edo State, Bola Ige International Business Complex, Ibadan, Oyo State, Ita Osun market, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Eriwe Fish Farm, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, and Isikan market, Akure, Ondo State.
In a recent statement sent to Vanguard, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Rural Electrification Agency, Damilola Ogunbiyi, had stated: “The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Rural Electrification Agency, is implementing the Energizing Economies Initiative (EEI) which supports the rapid deployment of off-grid electricity solutions to provide clean, safe, affordable and reliable electricity to economic clusters (e.g., market places, shopping centres, industrial facilities) through private sector developers.”