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US agency commits $1.06m for rural electrification

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…Partners AEDC on 1,370 solar-powered mini-grids

By Chris Ochayi

The United State Trade & Development Agency, USTDA, Friday, committed a whooping sum of $1.06 million to support the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC, provide electricity to undeserved communities within its catchments areas.

The project, which is expected to provide up to 1,370 solar-powered mini-grids with energy storage systems to the rural communities, is in partnership with USTDA and Colorado’s Mountain Institute.

While the USTDA is providing the funds, the Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Institute will carry out the feasibility study on the project.

Speaking at the signing of the partnership agreement in Abuja, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, Engr. Ernest Mupwaya, regretted huge disparity in the level of electrifications between urban and rural areas.

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According to Mupwaya, “In our environment for instance, there is a huge disparity in the level of electrification between urban and rural areas where access to electricity is higher in urban areas compared to rural areas.

“As a Company, we have designed a strategy which seeks to holistically examine how the obvious huge gaps in the level of electrification can be narrowed. In addition, we are developing and implementing initiatives to improve the quality of supply in urban areas.

“We  are also considering how we can close up the gaps in rural areas where the challenges, some of which include the affordability of electricity, long distances which require extensive network remain unique to these areas.”

Mupwaya explained that, “We are grateful that the United States Trade Department and Administration has committed funding to help the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company provide electricity to underserved communities through the implementation of up to 1,370 solar-powered mini-grids with energy storage systems. Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Institute will carry out the study.

“With this support from the USTDA in partnership with Rocky Mountain Institute, we are going to be able to conduct a feasibility study that will identify specific opportunities for different areas so that we can ultimately have bankable solutions, which in turn can facilitate partnerships with other investors.

“This will enable us achieve sustainable overall improvement consistent with our desire to provide quality electricity to our franchise area.”

The goal of this grant for the study according to him include, “The identification of optimal locations for complimentary mini grid deployments within the catchments area of AEDC.”

He added, “Part of strategic plan to provide power 24/7 starting with Abuja.

“Development of an integrated distribution framework that combines the central grid with decentralized off grid power solutions, which will, where appropriate, include mini grids, off grid mini grids, grid extension projects and solar home systems.”

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On his part, the Acting Director, USTDA, Thomas Hardy, said Nigeria is a dynamic market with many opportunities for cooperation between our private sectors.

He said, “USTDA’s support for these energy projects will strengthen business ties between our countries and deliver important results for the Nigerian people.”

Hardy, who was represented by Heather Lanigan, Regional Director, Sub-Region Africa, USTDA, said the agency was building on its 27 years of support for Nigeria’s energy by funding the projects.

He said the agency was funding three projects that will help electrify dozens of rural communities and deliverr critical gas resources to support economic activity and job growth.


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