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COVID-19: FG lights up rural areas with off-grid electricity

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The Federal Government, through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), yesterday disclosed plans to light up rural communities with off-grid solutions as part of measure to ease the effect of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Managing Director of the agency, Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, said there would be direct intervention and emergency provision of Solar Home Systems (SHS) and solar mini-grid solutions in Primary Health Centres (PHCs), COVID-19 Isolation Centres and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reference laboratories across the country.

The agency, he added, is also working with the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) to accelerate grant disbursement to qualifying developers of Solar Home Systems (SHS) and solar mini-grid projects under the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP).

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Ahmad said the agency would also continue the implementation of the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) disbursement for projects.

Part of the measures are engagement of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Federal Ministry of Power for inclusion of energy access companies and off-grid power developers under the COVID-19 intervention programme of the bank.

The move followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s charge to all agencies and well-meaning Nigerians to support the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic as well as follow up by Minister of Power, which itemised palliatives for the power sector.

“REA is mindful of the impact of reliable electricity access, especially at this difficult time, and will continue to engage with stakeholders and development partners to complement the efforts of the Presidential Task Force, Federal Ministry of Health, the NCDC, Economic Sustainability Committee and our health workers/first responders who risk their lives daily, to ensure that the pandemic is contained and managed effectively,” Ahmad said.

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