Waheed Olagunju
Waheed Olagunju

Acting Managing Director, BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju

By James Emejo in Abuja

Determined to simulate economics activities by empowering the small and medium enterprises across the country, the Bank of Industry (BOI) has commissioned a 24 kilowatts micro-grid solar solution in Kolwa, Kaltungo Local Government Area of Gombe State.

This came as the state government also concluded plans with the development finance institution to replicate the power project in other nine local government areas of the state.

Prior to the installation of the solar power system, the over 250 households in the rustic and largely agrarian village had relied on self-power generation, which is largely seen as unhealthy.

However, the Kolwa eletrification project is a 24KW capacity installation that covers a 6 km distribution network, and is also capable providing commercial ventures with electricity.

While the BoI/UNDP solar power pilot project is to be installed in six rural communities in the six geo-political zones of the country, the Kolwa project makes it three, having previously been installed in Bisanti, in Katcha Local Government Area of Niger State, and in Onibambu, Ife-North LGA in Osun State.

The three others, namely: Ogbekpen, Ikpoba in Okha LGA, Edo State, Onono, Anambra West LGA, in Anambra State and Carwa/Cakum, Markarfi LGA, in Kano State are awaiting commissioning.

Speaking during the commissioning of the project in Kolwa, acting Managing Director, BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju said the N44 million rural electrification project being financed by the bank in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme, would provide electricity for over 200 homes which were hitherto not connected to the national grid.

He stated that the rural electrification project was conceived by the bank not only to improve living standards of the rural dwellers, but also to boost economic activities in such areas.

She said the installation of the 24KW solar power project in Kolwa would give electricity to the over 200 households in the area at the cheapest cost, adding that the bank gave concessionary loan to the project developer, GVE Nigeria Limited, to achieve the feat.

Explaining the metering model to be employed, Olagunju said payment would be on a Pay-as-You-Go basis, with each household provided with a pre-paid meter.

He said: “DFIs are policy based institutions that are meant to intervene in areas where market driven institutions would ordinarily not operate in. What we have done in Gombe is a concessionary lending to GVE; we made available N44m to the firm to execute the project. We decided to adjust our terms and conditions to sooth the nature of the project. We wanted to make it affordable.

“We took into cognizance the fact that the community members’ cash flow will not be able to service the loan at 10 per cent and within the normal tenure of 7years BoI normally allows for long term lending. We decided to double the tenure to 15 per cent, while we also bring down the interest rate from 10 per cent to 7 per cent. The import of this is that, a market driven commercial institution will not be able to lend at such rate because it will be below their cost.

According to him, the firm employs from the local community as well as providing capacity for them. The system of metering is PAY-As-YOU-Go. Each of the 250 houses in the community will be given a meter and when you pay to the service provider, you will be given a code to load your meter. You can load your meter for as low as N100 to N200, which means you spend about N3,000 in a month to have uninterrupted electricity as opposed to when you have to rely on kerosine lanterns which cost more and unhygienic.”

Meanwhile, Dankwanbo noted that the initiative would provide linkages for enterprise development in rural communities across the country.

He added that he had ordered top officials of the state to liaise with the bank officials for the purpose of perfecting strategies on how the project could be replicated in the other nine local governments of the state.