By Obas Esiedesa, Abuja

The Federal Government yesterday solicited the support of state governments to boost access to off-grid electricity by rural communities across the country.

The Minister of State for Power, Mr. Goddy Jedy-Agba made the appeal at the Rural Electrification Agency, REA, stakeholders’ workshop in Abuja with the theme: Collaboration with states for accelerated rural electrification.

His appeal came shortly after Gail Warrander, Team Leader for Economic Development, UK FCDO, disclosed that there are more people in Nigeria without access to electricity than in any other country in the world.

Jeddy-Agba who disputed this stressed that the Federal Government through the REA has done a lot to bring off-grid electricity to rural communities.

He however stressed that it was impossible for the Federal Government to do much without the support of state governments.

According to him, “Recent events have shown the need to focus on deploying more off-grid solutions to complement the efforts of the Federal Government in ensuring that there is a reliable supply of electricity nationwide.

“To have nationwide access to electricity we have to focus on both enhancing the national grid and the off-grid solutions. To grow an economy, stable electricity is a key factor which cannot be overemphasized. The Federal Government has equipped agencies such as the REA with the tools it needs to contribute its quota into ensuring all Nigerians have access to electricity.

“This workshop showcases our goal of building a good relationship between the Federal Government and all the states, therefore I encourage the REA and State governments to go further and jointly design and support programmes that will boost the social and economic lives of people in rural communities”.

Earlier, Warrander noted that to boost power supply in Nigeria the Federal Government needs to address the issues of value added tax and import duties on power equipment. She also added that there is the need to boost income levels in the country and also bridge the technology gap in the sector.

Also speaking, the Managing Director of REA, Engr. Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad noted that the agency was desirous of building a strong collaborative relationship with state governments and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, because “every community deserves to have access to electricity”.

He pointed out that “to actualize the REA mandate, there is a need to collaborate and partner with sub-national governments. The sub-national governments are closer to the beneficiaries/communities, understand their needs and peculiar challenges and are better positioned to facilitate required approvals and support.

“The REA is therefore proposing to partner with the states to implement its projects and programmes. The REA is also proposing to work with the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, to develop a collaboration and partnership framework that will define the institutional structures, roles and responsibilities, engagement mechanism and procedures, communication requirements, and reporting guidelines”, he added.

On his part, the Chairman of REA Board, Engr. Col. Abdulazeez Musa Yar’Adua (Rtd) stated that it is the agency’s “aspiration to see the livelihood of people in rural communities is improved greatly through access to electricity. There is a need to ensure adequate stakeholder coordination with the States, to ensure that we are all working together towards the same purpose of increasing energy access in line with the REA’s mandate.

“With the response from the states to this workshop, I do not doubt that we are off to a good start, and we will achieve this purpose together”.

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