Says vision is to transform the lives of 1 billion people globally

By Olayinka Ajayi

The Nigerian power sector has suffered several setbacks due to challenges of policy enforcement, Vandalism, corruption, sabotage among others. In this interview, Mr. Kenneth Esenwah the Managing Director of d.light Nigeria, a renewable Solar energy company speaks on the need for Nigerians to reconsider renewable energy as a better alternative to boost Africa’s largest economy. Excerpts:

Nigeria is a major exporter of crude oil and with vast deposits of natural gas, but still suffers erratic power supply, what in your opinion is responsible?

It is simply an irony that the continent’s largest oil producer with the largest proven natural gas reserve, and one of the brightest and best human resource talent bases in the world is still grappling with erratic power supply.  

The Nigerian power sector experiences many broad challenges related to electricity policy enforcement, regulatory uncertainty, gas supply, transmission system constraints, and major power sector planning shortfalls that have kept the sector from reaching commercial viability. 

This is a direct reflection of the cumulative impact of decades of wrong decisions, outdated and dilapidated generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure value chain, poor maintenance culture, vandalism, sabotage, corruption, and overall inefficiency in resource management – these all combine to make it highly prone to frequent system collapses.

We have seen an increasing clamour for the adoption of renewable energy, do you think that is the route to travel?

Adopting renewable energy as an alternate means of power generation is unquestionably the right path to go. Nigeria is endowed with large oil, gas, hydro and solar resources, and it has the potential to generate 12,522 MW of electric power from existing plants. On most days, however, it is only able to dispatch around 4,000 MW to the grid largely from hydro and gas, which is insufficient for a country of over 200 million people.

 The inefficiencies in the grid distribution network means even lower power gets delivered to households and businesses. Nigeria, being the country with the largest electricity access deficit with a grossly insufficient grid-supplied electricity, suggests that adding more sources of energy to be distributed through the grid will lead to further wastage hence the primary reason that distributed and localized renewable solutions should be explored as alternatives for households/businesses. 

Renewable power is cheaper in the long run, more reliable and more sustainable and will enable millions of people to have reliable and consistent access to life-changing and trans-formative technologies that d.light provides such as lighting, fans, TVs and smartphone devices. 

Where is Nigeria in the journey to full adoption of renewable energy as a complement to conventional power supply?

Under the Paris Agreement, the Federal Government of Nigeria set the ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gasses by 45 percent by 2030 while contributing its quota towards achieving the global goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, a development which provides additional incentive to promote and invest in the spread of clean alternatives such as solar energy to help reach these goals. In recent years, the focus on renewables has become stronger and it is growing to become a focus of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s electricity policy. 

This has resulted in the introduction of policy and regulatory instruments geared towards stimulating investment in renewables and both Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission ,NERC, and the Rural Electrification Agency ,REA, have played key roles. We have the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy ,NREEEP, which is broadly geared at removing barriers that put renewable energy and energy efficiency at economic, regulatory, or institutional disadvantages and providing a conductive political environment that will attract investments in the renewable energy and energy efficiency arena. 

Riding on this federal policy mandate, Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Limited ,NBET, the government-owned utility which serves as a central counterpart between generators and retail distributors, executed power purchase agreements with 14 solar photovoltaic IPP developers, demonstrating a drive to adopt renewable energy sources as viable electricity generating sources. 

This resonates with our goal to transform 1 billion lives by 2030 with sustainable products and reinforces d.light’s resolve towards investing heavily in expanding its distribution infrastructure in Nigeria and help in accelerating awareness and access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable products to the underserved people in rural areas. 

While we are not seemingly progressing as fast as we ought to, we can say that Nigeria’s renewable energy adoption is promising, and its future is very bright, especially as recent rise in global crude oil prices have made Nigerians see the unsustainability of relying on fossil fuel powered generators.

What could be the barriers for the deployment of renewable and green energy solutions in Nigeria?

Price remains the most significant barrier in the growth of the market for both renewable energy solutions and energy efficient appliances, a key indicator of other prevailing market issues. We have sought to address these challenges through providing financing to customers using Pay-As-You-Go technology that enables customers to take home the product after making a deposit and make payments in affordable weekly and monthly installments until the product is fully paid. 

The sale of solar power systems and appliances to customers is a capital-intensive venture that requires investment in design, equipment, manufacturing, distribution, and consumer financing. Therefore, scalable access to funding is critical to the sustainability of renewable energy companies in Nigeria. Since most investments in the sector come through foreign remittances, access to forex also proves to be a huge challenge and barrier to growth.

Also to improve the quality of life of people without access to electricity, the Federal Government must facilitate increased funding for the renewable energy sector by prioritizing forex access for renewable energy solutions and the associated appliances and by granting import duty waivers and subsidies to businesses driving and promoting renewable energy awareness.

What role are you playing in the renewable energy space?

We are a global leader in driving social transformation by making transformative products available and affordable to low-income families in hard-to-reach areas. Most of the customers we serve don’t have access to reliable power or financing, and we remove those barriers. We enable access to transformative products like solar home systems, inverters, TVs, fans, radios, cook-stoves and smartphones by providing consumer financing across our product range, to people without credit scoring who lack access to financing, while riding on our Pay As You Go technology to offer affordability and flexibility. 

We design our products in our hub in the USA and distribute them across five operational hubs in South Asia and Africa – with Nigeria serving as the West African hub. We also partner with trusted leading device brands to drive smartphone adoption through consumer financing. We sold over 25 million products globally with Nigeria contributing over a million of those, while impacting the lives of over 128 million people worldwide. Our vision is to transform the lives of 1 billion people globally through sustainable products by 2030.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.