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FG to power rural communities with N201 billion loan

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Intervention targets Nigeria’s 80m population without electricity

A total of N201.575 billion loan coming from the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) aimed at granting energy access to underserved and un-served communities across the country will be deployed by the Federal Government as part of measures to reduce Nigeria’s energy gap and spur economic activities in rural areas.

With over 80 million Nigerians still without electricity, the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman at the launch of the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) – African Development Bank (AfDB) yesterday, in Abuja, insisted that the new move remained critical to meeting government’s objectives.

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The investment standing at $200 million is followed by another $350 million loans earlier secured by Federal Government from the World Bank. The investment into NEP from the two banks, therefore, stands at $550 million, about N201.757 billion.

Rural Electrification Agency (REA), a government agency mandated to provide “access to reliable electric power supply for rural dwellers irrespective of where they live and what they do”, is expected to champion the plan.

Represented by the Special Adviser to the President on infrastructure, Ahmed Zakari, Mamman, acknowledged that energy access remains the second most important enabler of economic development, adding that Nigeria’s “current energy access gap is a huge issue, especially with the current economic conditions.”

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Reportedly, with only 41.1 percent of the country’s 200 million people having access to electricity, and with 51.4 percent of this population residing in rural-urban areas, healthcare delivery, agricultural development, rural-migration, and insecurity may persist without government intervention.

“The significant investments will go a long way in helping us deliver much-needed sustainable energy to 105,000 households (500,000 people), 24,500 micro, small and medium enterprises in communities off the national grid. It would also help in energizing eight federal universities, thus improving the environment for tertiary education in the country.

“Furthermore, the Nigeria Electrification Project would also help Nigeria achieve its goals towards gender parity, by working to ensure that at least 20 per cent of the households and businesses benefitting from this partnership are headed or owned by women. The project also aims to train 160 female students on renewable energy,” he said.

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The investment will also develop approximately 76.5 MW in increased installed power generation capacity (of which, 68 MW will be from solar generation), provide eight universities with access to reliable sources of energy, renewable energy workshop/training centers, and streetlights, provide 20,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) supported/supplied with productive use appliances and equipment and reduce 1.69 million tons of CO2 emissions.

Stressing on government’s commitment to providing an off-grip solution to an underserved population, Managing Director of REA, Ahmed Salihijo stated that of the new $200 million investment, four components are structured under the facility.

According to him, Solar Hybrid Mini Grids under the minimum subsidy tender (MST) will receive $70 Million, Energy-Efficient Appliances for Productive Use $20 Million, Phase Three of the Energizing Education Program – $100 Million, and Technical Assistance and capacity building – $10Million.

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Salihijo said: “We have now clearly shown the abundant opportunities and the gain in shifting focus from the grid-based energy to delivering renewable, off-grid solutions to Nigerian communities.

“These initiatives are making a difference in how energy access objectives are fulfilled sustainably, while at the same time, making a difference in the lives of the Nigerian people that were unserved or underserved.”

The Acting Vice President, Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth Complex of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Wale Shonibare, stressed the role electricity play in the nation’s development.

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Disturbed over the gap in energy access in the country and the need to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in the area of providing access to energy for all, Shonibare said the current support to enable the government meets its targets.

Stating that the country would grant energy access to about 800, 000 persons yearly to meet the projected goals, he noted that the country must leverage off-grip solutions to boost the rural economy.

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