By James Emejo in Abuja
The Bank of Industry (BoI) has commissioned a N32 million- micro grid solar system in Charwa/Chakun, an off-grid community in Markafi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The commissioning of the 24 kilowatt (KW)-stand alone solar electrification project developed was the last of the sixth pilot programme executed by the development finance institution in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Altogether, the sixth rural electrification projects, which is a combination of micro off-grid and stand-alone solar systems, has cost BoI about N240.6million.
The initiative further targets to provide electricity to thousands of rural dwellers who hitherto had no access to the national grid.
Apart from Charwa/Chakun, other communities including Bisanti, in Katcha LGA of Niger State, Onibambu in Ife-North LGA of Osun State, Ogbekpen, Ikpoba, in Okha LGA, of Edo State, Onono, Anambra West LGA, of Anambra State and Kaltungo LGA of Gombe State have all benefitted from the electrification project.
Under the stand-alone solar systems model, users are required to purchase electricity vouchers through a wireless mobile technology from a local vendor employed the project developer within the community, which will be used to recharge the pre-paid meters provided in each home.
Speaking during the commissioning of the Charwa/Chakun solar systems, the acting Managing Director of the bank, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, said that the project has had strong catalytic effects on the lives of the people to the extent that demands for the deployment of solar solution had increased across the country.
Olagunju noted that, for instance, Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, had asked the bank to partner with the state with a view to replicating the solar systems in other 10 local government areas.
According to him, the governor has given the nod for the commencement of the project in two villages of the state and would soon be commissioned.
He added that other governors, private organisations, multinational corporations, religious bodies and communities leaders had also approached the bank for the execution of the solar project in their select communities.
Meanwhile, concerning the Charwa/Chakun project, the BoI boss explained that each home would have sufficient solar electricity to power three LED light bulbs, 1 eletric fan, 1 radio/TV set and mobile phone charging system.
On the significance to the rural community, he said: “What we are implementing is a tested and commercially sound model for delivering power to the Nigerian rural homes at affordable rate. We want all our rural communities to take control of their energy needs by paying for only energy used.
“This is the sixth of the last pilot project that is being implemented in partnership with the UNDP. We have achieved our objective of ensuring that we sensitise Nigerians to alternative renewable energy sources that are more efficient, cleaner. Testimonies from the five communities where we have successfully commissioned off-grid solar solution are quite positive.
“Living standard has improved, quality of lives has been enhanced and commercial activities have equally picked up, especially micro, small and medium enterprises.”
Olagunju said the bank’s medium term target was to have 100,000 homes installed with solar systems in the next five years through a combination of micro-grid and stand-alone solar home systems.
In his remarks, however, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, said the project would strengthen the government’s initiative to providing the creation of the much needed employment in the state.
According to him, if the commissioned project provides electricity for 200 homes in Charwa/Chakun, its replication in other selected nine communities would bring the total number of homes having access to off-grid electricity to 2,000.
The governor who was represented at the occasion by the Director General, Kaduna Power Supplies Company, Dr. Abdulkareem Mayere, urged the people of the community to protect the facilities in their care for a sustainable use.
Also speaking, Africa Development Bank (AfDB) representative, Mr. Akinwunmi Emmanuel, noted that the electrification project would enhance the living standard of the people in the community.
He said the goal of the bank was to ‘light up Africa’ and would do everything possible to support every initiative aimed at reducing poverty among the rural dwellers.