By James Emejo in Abuja
The Bank of Industry (BoI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have signed a $2 million-deal on the implementation of solar electrification projects in some select off-grid rural communities in the country.
The agreement was part of the UNDP/BoI Access to Renewable Energy (AtRE) Scheme, aimed at implementing the second phase of the solar power electrification projects in some select communities.
Six communities, spread across the six geo-political zones where the bank has subsisting relationship for the development of MSMEs, are already benefitting from pilot phase.
The pilot project involved provision of long-term financing for the installation of micro-grid and stand-alone solar solutions in the benefitting states.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in Abuja, the acting Managing Director, BOI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju said the Cost Sharing Agreement would facilitate the replication and scaling up of the solar energy projects in more communities across the country.
He said: “The blend of BOI’s contribution in the sum of $1.4 million as debt financing for the projects, with UNDP’s grant contribution of $600,000 will provide the much needed stimulus to scale up the projects in view of the attendant reduction in the cost of deployment and enhancement of its overall viability.
“The BOI’s contribution and the UNDP grant will be deployed to provide solar energy solution in states where both BOI and UNDP have existing collaboration.”
In scaling up the rural electrification project, Olagunju noted that the bank had been buoyed by the catalytic effects it had had in the six communities where the projects had been deployed.
He added that the target of the bank was to have over 100,000 off-grid homes lit in the next five years, stressing that hundreds of homes would be captured in the second phase of the project.
Sharing the success story of the project in the select states, he said: “These communities with an average of 200 homes each previously had no electricity and lived in darkness. But since the provision of clean, reliable and sustainable solar electricity, the lives of indigenes of these communities have changed significantly.
“The provision of solar electricity has reduced energy costs, created more micro businesses, improved healthcare and quality of education, and generally provided a new lease of life for indigenes of these otherwise unserved communities.”
In her remarks, UNDP acting Resident Representative, Mandisa Mashologu, said the signing of the agreement on the implementation of the rural solar power project marked a significant millstone, particularly coming at a time the country had just signed the Paris agreement.
Apart from supporting the MSMEs, Mashologu said the second phase of the programme would have more communities which hitherto have no access to electricity, benefit from the project.
She said: “This partnership agreement that we are signing today will certainly ensure that we scale up our efforts at providing safe and environmentally friendly energy to the people in line with the Paris agreement.”