By Chesa Chesa
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the weekend in Jigawa State flagged off a project to provide solar power electricity to five million Nigerian communities before the Buhari administration terminates in 2023.
Coming under the Economic Sustainability Plan, Osinbajo says the launch of the Solar Power Naija programme is part of the Buhari administration efforts to ensure that many more Nigerians have access to cheap and environmentally friendly renewable power.
If the plan is sustained, about 25 million Nigerians whose communities are off the national grid, will eventually be connected.
The programme is taking off with the Jangefe Community in Roni Local Government Area (in the Kazaure Emirate) of Jigawa State and willa eventually get to all geopolitical zones in the country soon.
After Jangefe, the rollout will continue across the six geopolitical zones in Edo, Lagos, Adamawa, Anambra, Kebbi and Plateau, before reaching all 36 States and the FCT; and covering 25million Nigerians in the end. The Jangefe community will get 1,000 Solar Home Systems connections for its about 5,000 population. It is being handled by A-Solar, a local solar power company implementing aspects of the ESP Solar Power Naija scheme. The Jangefe community will pay monthly energy payments until the systems are fully paid for at the point in which there will be a transfer of ownership to each consumer in the community. The Vice-President noted that the “President had emphasised that we could no longer rely solely on the grid if we were to electrify the whole country. Which meant that we had to develop an effective strategy for decentralizing power supply. Two obvious things to do were, first to think of implementing more off-grid solutions and to use renewable energy especially solar power. “Another challenge turned opportunity was Covid-19 and our response to the economic fallouts of the pandemic – the Economic Sustainability Plan. A fundamental rationale for the plan was to retain existing jobs and create new jobs.
“A mass solar programme seemed like a real chance to kill several birds with one stone; electrify the country and in the process, create thousands of jobs from solar assembly and manufacturing plants to installers, payment system operators, and maintenance of solar systems once installed.
“Mr. President, therefore, approved the inclusion of what came to be known as the Solar Power Naija programme in the Economic Sustainability Plan which he asked me to chair. “The Solar Power Naija programme which is designed by the Rural Electrification Agency is an ambitious initiative that aims to create 5 million connections through a 140 billion Naira financing programme that will support private developers to provide power for 5 million households, which means providing electricity for up to 25 million Nigerians. Osinbajo further explained that the solar power programme is a public-private sector partnership supported by concessionary lending via the Central Bank of Nigeria and commercial banks. “In addition to the concessionary lending rates, the Government has provided subsidies and rebates for private developers to the tune of over $200 million under the Rural Electrification Agency and World Bank Nigeria Electrification Programme.
“The programme incorporates several innovative solutions to increase affordability for the citizens while also providing sufficient comfort to investors and financiers alike,” he stated. In his remarks on the occasion, Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru, said the solar project like many other schemes that have been implemented would positively impact the economy of the state in line with the vision of the President and Osinbajo.