Experts advocate local solar panel assembly, commit $1.5 million
In efforts to boost the renewable energy sector in Nigeria, Shell Petroleum Development Company, (SPDC) has committed to a $1.5 million investment deal with Auxano Solar to scale up operations over the next five years.
The investment, which is spearheaded by All On, a Shell-funded investment company will fast-track locally made materials for solar projects, thereby making it affordable to Nigerians.
Programmes and Investment Manager, All On, Afolabi Akinrogunde, said the investment is aimed at expanding Auxano’s solar panel assembly capacity by over 50 per cent and a great win for local content.
He added that the solar company’s success story, as the first private assembler of solar panels, should inspire other players in the renewable energy sector.
Akinrogunde noted that All On’s contribution is a blend of equity and debt investments that will facilitate the increase of Auxano’s capacity utilisation by funding its expansion plans, covering facility relocation and meeting the working capital financing the needs of the company.
“The investment will also enhance the company’s services such as after-sales installation, management, and maintenance services of renewable power solutions to its customers.
“The All On Hub will also provide development support, including functional and innovation support, business opportunity development and investor/donor engagement.”
Chief Operating Officer, Auxano Solar, Chuks Umezulora, said the support is in response to an increase in demand of goods and services and an indication that Nigerians are accepting solar as an alternative to on-grid energy and diesel generators.
“Most significantly, the current COVID-19 crisis has caused severe disruptions in the importation of solar panel parts. Having an operational in-country assembly plant will be an industry saver. The solar panel assembly sector has been able to survive and customers have been able to purchase goods in Naira rather than foreign currency, a trend Auxano’s expansion will make it more viable.”
On his part, Managing Director, Rural Electrification Agency, Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, said the support is in line with the company’s policy objective of driving economic development.
“This support is coming during a great economic downturn. As such, the funding will inject significant capital that will scale Auxano’s solar panel assembly operations at a time when localising supply chains is more critical than ever. We hope that this investment will encourage many more investors to see that Nigeria’s renewable energy sector is still very much open for business.”
Chief Executive Officer, All On, Dr. Wiebe Boer, added that the current supply chain disruptions and market volatility demonstrate the importance of local assembly for the development of the renewable energy sector in Nigeria.
“Auxano Solar Nigeria is a textbook example of what is possible even in times of crisis when we promote local content and invest in capacity-building. This is a company that has demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit and execution focus we know Nigerian companies are capable of.”
Auxano is one of the four companies selected by All On to partner in the COVID-19 Solar Relief Fund in April 2020 for the deployment of power to emergency health care and emergency response centres in Nigeria. The company deployed the solar power solution at the COVID-19 isolation ward at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos.