Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The new solar power mini grids scheduled to be built by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) under the Nigerian Electrification Project (NEP) will provide stable electricity supplies to rural communities in Nigeria and make them economically prosperous, the REA has disclosed.
The REA said the NEP which is a private-sector driven project but supervised by it, would provide clean electricity to homes, businesses, schools, health centres and places of worship of beneficiary communities.
REA’s Director of Promotions, Mr. Ayang Ogbe, stated this during a recent consultation meeting with community people at Nselle and Ndo/Nkpanya/Ngo communities in Ikom local government area of Cross River State that the NEP solar mini grid project to be deployed to the communities was an initiative of the federal government to increase electricity access to off grid communities across Nigeria.
He explained that the electricity would be safe, clean, affordable and constant for the communities’ homes, businesses, schools, places of worship and health centres, adding that the project would be executed by private companies, with the support of the federal government which he noted was in partnership with the World Bank on the project.
According to Ogbe, while private sector operators would be responsible for setting up and running the power systems, communities will only pay for the electricity they use, thus indicating that supplies would be measured with metering devices.
Ogbe, also took out time to enlighten community folks at the sensitisation exercise about REA’s Electricity Users Cooperative Society (EUCS), stating that it was initiated by the REA to galvanise unity for the NEP.
He highlighted that the EUCS would consist of adult member of the communities, regardless of gender or physical disability, adding that the EUCS would work with the private developers for the solar systems to safeguard them from electricity theft and vandalism; help resolve any complaints relating to the project and escalate the complaints to the REA where necessary; help resolve dispute among members; and mediate between the communities and relevant stakeholders in the electricity industry.
Similarly, Solomon Agbor, an official from the Cross River State electricity agency, in his remarks at the meeting, assured the communities that the state government was aware of the NEP and supported its objectives.
Agbor, informed that the benefits of the solar mini grid system were immense, stating that electricity from it was safer than batteries, generator, fire lanterns and candles.
He told members of the communities that the solar system would not emit smoke, produce noise or cause fire outbreak that could damage their environment, adding that the NEP would in addition to lighting up their environment, also help build their businesses and encourage school children to study at night.
Speaking on the environmental and community related issues, an official of REA, Chinonso Njoku, noted that measures have been taken to ensure the construction and operations of the mini grid adhere to standard health, safety and environment (HSE) demands.