Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The federal government through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has launched the execution of its Energising Economies Initiative (EEP), a project aimed at taking four big markets and major economic centres in Nigeria off the national grid, and powering their activities with clean and stable electricity.
According to the Managing Director of REA, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, who launched the first phase of the EEP at the weekend in Sabon Gari Market, Kano, the initiative will provide efficient, clean and sustainable power to traders and shop owners in each of the four markets namely Sabon Gari â€“ Kano in Kano State; Ariaria â€“ Aba in Abia State, Somolu Printing Community and Sura Shopping Complex, both in Lagos, to boost their productivity.
Joined by the Governor of Kano State, Mr. Abdullahi Ganduje, at the unveiling of the first phase of the project in Sabon Gari, Ogunbiyi told journalists that the market, which had been disconnected from the national grid and only gets its power from multiple diesel power generation sources, would now gradually shift to using solar power to undertake its activities.
She explained that REA conducted an energy audit to discover that the market, which has 12,369 shops, has a load demand of 916 kilowatt (kW). According to her, 500 shops have been connected in the first phase, with 6,000 expected to be connected in the second phase, while the balance would be done in the third phase.
All activities, according to her, including high power demanding activities in the market, would be accommodated in the EEP.
She also added that the entire market would be fully connected by the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2018, and that the initiative would be wholly driven by the private sector.
â€œThe REA in partnership with Sabon Gari Energy Solutions Ltd, a private sector power company, has successfully connected 500 shops in the market as part of the first phase of deployment,â€ said Ogunbiyi.
She further noted: â€œThese shops will now benefit from stable, affordable and reliable power during market opening hours. The state of the art, decentralised solar system is equipped with remote monitoring capabilities, smart meters as well as durable lithium ion batteries to support night time load.
â€œConvenient payment collection is also being facilitated by partnership with Paga, which will provide presence within the market through its agents as well as its digital platform to enable mobile payments. As a result of this first deployment, a total of 20 skilled jobs have been created and it is expected that this will increase to 200 as deployment continues throughout the entire market.â€
She stated that the Kano State government and Sabon Gari Market Association have provided the REA strong supports to go on with project.
Ganduje, who was represented by his Commissioner of Commerce, Industry and Cooperative, Mr. Ahmad Rabiâ€™u Bako, said the solar system would help the contain the occasional outbreak of fire that has led to loss of monies and goods.
He said: â€œWe thank President Muhammadu Buhari, for recognising that we have had so many fire incidents in our market, that has been caused by using unconventional means of supplying power and every time we have power from the public supply.
â€œNow, we are able to get from solar which is the safest source of power and also done in a way that will benefit us not only against power outage but also the safety of the market. We have seen the facility they have here, what we are expecting is a saner and improved business environment. We expect less hazard because there is no pollution from solar, unlike before when there are so many bits and pieces of generators here.
â€œThe company is here not just to supply power and go away, but also to maintain, that is why they have a customer care facility here in the market,â€ he added.
According to REA, the EEP is private sector driven with the federal government providing project management, legal, regulatory and transaction support. It added that Sabon Gari Market, being located in northern Nigeria, will benefit from high solar irradiation.