In a bid to ensure that businesses in Nigerian communities that are not connected to the national grid do not lack access to power supply, the Bank of Industry (BoI) has launched N1billion Solar Energy Fund for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The company has also noted that due to the challenges in the supply of public electricity, it was estimated that in 2015, manufacturers spent as much as N3.5trillion to generate alternative power.
Speaking during the recent official launch of the fund in Lagos, the acting Managing Director of BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju noted that MSMEs play a major role as the engine through which most countries in the world thrive.
According to him, the growth and development of MSMEs “are crucial to the level of industrialisation, modernisation, income per capita, equitable distribution of income, welfare and quality of life enjoyed by the citizenry”.
Olagunju further stated that the performance of the MSME subsector is closely associated with the development of a nation, adding that in Nigeria, the growth of this sector has been hampered over the years by a combination of factors, one of which is access to reliable electricity.
He added that many Nigerians and Nigerian businesses that can afford other alternative energy sources have resorted to the use of electric generators at exorbitant costs.
“It was estimated that in 2015, manufacturers spent as much as N3.5trillion to generate alternative power due to the challenges in the supply of public electricity. The cost of electricity accounts for about 40 per cent of operational expenses for most MSMEs, resulting in reduced profit margins, uncompetitive and generally unsustainable ventures,” he said.
For Nigeria to therefore achieve sustainable and inclusive development, Olagunju argued that there is an urgent need to substantially increase the supply of modern and affordable energy services from sources that are affordable, accessible and environmentally friendly.
“A robust mix of energy sources combined with an improved end-use efficiency would be required to meet the country’s energy needs, and this is where the utilisation of renewable energy sources come into play. Renewable Energy provide healthy and sustainable alternative to the continuous use of fossil fuels, with long term cost saving advantages, especially in the absence of reliable power supply which is an essential ingredient for growth. It is therefore important to support the provision of sustainable and reliable energy for MSMEs, which is why the Bank of Industry has decided to provide the Solar Energy Fund to MSMEs,” he explained.
According to him, BoI is already playing an active role in Lighting up and powering Nigeria through the provision of solar energy solutions for rural communities, having successfully deployed solar solutions worth N240 million to six off-grid communities, one each in Niger, Osun, Gombe, Anambra, Edo and Kaduna States, under its pilot scheme.
“These communities with an average of 200 homes each previously had no access to electricity, but since the provision of clean, reliable and sustainable solar electricity, the lives of the indigenes of these communities have changed significantly,” he added.
In remarks, the former Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), and former United Nations Under-Secretary General, who is the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sustainable Energy for All, Dr Kandeh Yumkella, noted that Africa had missed agricultural and digital revolutions and insisted that the continent should not miss the current green revolution.
“The only hope Africa has to create jobs is industrialisation and this cannot be achieved without energy. Africans must learn to ride the wave of green energy,” he added.
The pioneer managing director of BoI, Dr. Larry Osa-Afiana, in his speech, called for sustainability, adding that BoI’s initiative was a major breakthrough.