…..Project to cost N143bn, says Osinbajo

How Osinbajo managed public protests

By Obas Esiedesa, Abuja

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday launched an ambitious programme by the Federal to supply electricity to 25 million Nigerians through Solar Home System, SMS.

The Solar Power Naija Programme plans to roll out five new connections in off-grid communities across the country.

Speaking at the launch of the 100,000 Solar Home System in Jangefe community, Kazuare Emirate, Jigawa State, Prof. Osinbajo said the government was determined to bring power to unserved communities as part of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan of President Muhammdu Buhari’s administration.

He explained that the project which would be financed by a N140 billion fund would be paid for by the beneficiaries.

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He however noted that the government will be providing $200 million in subsidy to support the programme.

He said: “Another challenge which became an opportunity for us was the COVID-19 and our response to that which as many know was the Economic Sustainability Plan.

“The President’s vision around that plan was that rather than having situations where people lose jobs and opportunities; we could take the opportunities of Covid-19 to create more jobs. We could take the opportunities of the economic fallout to create more opportunities for the Nigerian people.

“So the President approved that we should do these five million solar home connections across the country which would mean that 25 million Nigerians would have power. But not just that, there will be jobs around those who will manufacture, those who will assemble the solar systems, those will install them will have jobs, those who will maintain them will have jobs and those who will also supply the payment systems and maintain the payment systems will also have jobs”.

He explained that the N140 billion finance programme will support private developers to provide power to the households.

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Vice President Osinbajo stressed that the initiative is a partnership programme with the private driving the connections, supported by concessionaire lending by the Central Bank of Nigeria and commercial banks.

“The power provided is not free but we have put in place structures to make sure that the connections are affordable to all those who will use it”, he added.

He praised the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, NDPHC, for taking the lead and becoming “an important catalyst for off-grid solar systems” in Nigeria.

Also speaking at the launch, the Minister of Power, Engr Sale Mamman said the programme when fully implemented will generate an additional N7 billion in tax revenue per annum and $10 million in annual import substitutions.

Engr. Mamman said the Ministry will supervise the programme and would ensure the expansion of off-grid connections across the country.

On his part, Governor Baderu Abubakar thanked President Buhari for choosing the state as the starting point of the programme.

He pledged the support of the state government in ensuring its success.

Also speaking the Managing Director/CEO, NDPHC, Mr Chiedu Ugbo said the company had already provided 20,000 units of solar home systems to households across the country.

“Those 20,000 are working as we speak and then the government asked us to do another five million solar connections, that will include solar home systems and mini-grid, off-grid solutions”, he added.

He explained that the 100,000 solar home systems launch is the second phase of NDPHC’s beyond the grid project.

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