US offers $1.06m grant to address electricity challenges in underserved communities
About $1.06m has been provided by the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to extend power supply to undeserved communities in Nigeria.
With the funding support, channelled through Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) in partnership with Rocky Mountain Institute would enable the firms to map out a strategic for 100 per cent electrification and the provision of 24/7 power supply starting with Abuja.
This would be achieved through the Identification of optimal locations for complimentary mini-grid deployments within the catchment area of AEDC.
Only 41.1 percent of the country’s 200 million people reportedly have access to electricity, and with 51.4 per cent of this population residing in rural-urban areas, healthcare delivery, agricultural development, are taking a hit, while rural-migration and insecurity continue to soar.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in Abuja recently, Acting Director of USTDA, Thomas Hardy said the fund would help the distribution company reach its consumers in underserved communities through the implementation of up to 1,370 solar-powered mini-grids with energy storage systems.
He said the agency was building on its 27years of support for Nigeria’s energy sector by funding three projects that would help to electrify dozens of rural communities and support economic growth in the country.
Hardy who was represented by US Chargé d’affaires, Kathleen FitzGibbon noted that Nigeria has a dynamic market with many opportunities, adding that its support for the energy projects would strengthen business ties between both countries and deliver important results for the Nigerian people.
According to him, with the new development assistance, the USTDA has now funded more than 70 projects in Nigeria with focus on energy, telecommunications, transportation, healthcare and agribusiness.
Managing Director of AEDC, Ernest Mupwaya, who thanked the USTDA for the financial support said the gesture would go a long way to provide a development plan to achieve 100 per cent electrification and provision of uninterrupted power supply in its catchment area.
“There is no one solution for us to achieve 100 per cent accessibility and good supply of electricity. There are some areas in urban areas which are undeserved. Though they are connected to the grid, they are receiving bad quality of electricity. There are also other areas on the peripheral of our networks where we can easily extend the grid and capture the connections. It is also a fact that other areas are far flanked from our grid network but they can’t wait for many years for the huge resources required to extend the grids. So in those areas it makes sense to develop mini grids so they can start having electricity.
Responding to a question on the number of people to benefit from the project, Mupwaya said : “Our catchment has a population of about 10 million. If we do our calculation in form of the number of people in each household, we may have some deficit.
“We project that if we are to reach 100 per cent electrification, then our current demand may have to triple, if we are to get from grid supply alone. By augmenting it with renewable sources, then it is possible that some of the megawatt should come from solar”, he added.
He stressed that the grant would help to facilitate some feasibility studies to identify the underserved areas and package them into bankable projects.
“This means we would be able to partner with other investors to accelerate electrification by rolling out isolated grids to supply power”, he said.Representative of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, Yusuf Usman applauded the US agency for its continuous support in Nigeria’s power sector.
Usman who is the Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power of the NNPC said the corporation was passionate to see improved access to electricity across the country in order to achieve a sustainable economic growth and job creations.“NNPC will like to see more support from USTDA and as part of our next level agenda, we will always support such initiative. This effort supports our ambition to use gas for power generation in the country”, he stated.