By Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
The federal government has kicked off the installation of one megawatt hybrid power plants in 37 federal universities in the country.
The Minister for Works and Power, Mr Babantunde Fashola, who disclosed this during the inspection of the one megawatt hybrid power plants project at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike-Ikwo in Ebonyi State, noted that the first batch of the installation in nine federal universities would be completed this year.
He said the project was one of the policy interventions of the federal government to breakdown access to power especially in rural communities.
“This is one of the policy interventions of the federal government to breakdown access to power especially to rural communities. This is one of the projects birthed by the president’s approval of the rural electrification strategic plan.
“We are in the Alex Ekwueme Federal University in Ebonyi. You would have heard me talking about plans to electrify 37 universities. This is one of the first nine which we will finish this year.
“This is a one megawatt solar plant for the university. It also comes with eight kilometres of lighting. As you heard from the project head here, they have installed here 3,500 solar panels. So, we are in the last phase of the implementation,” Fashola said.
The minister also noted that over 9,000 people have been employed since the project started, adding that it means the policies they have inaugurated since the privatization on power policy were beginning to take foothold.
He said: “We have also heard that over 9,000 people have also been employed since the project started. Students have also been involved. What this means is that the policies we have inaugurated since the privatization on power policy are beginning to take foothold and it’s important that Nigerians understand especially when we talk in terms of what we offer on the next level.
“There was a policy for eligible customers which was targeted at industries and heavy consumers over two megawatts. There was also a policy to energize markets and you have heard or seen the interventions on Ariaria International Market, Sabon Ngeri, Sura and other markets across the country with more to come.
“This is a policy now targeting education to make sure that all federal universities, to start with, have their own power plants and involve students in the process of developing so that part of their learning also is that they can maintain and even do better things when they leave school.
“We are few weeks to closure and I am sure when this is done, the president will be here to come and switch it on.”
According to him, “There will be a sense of continuity of policy. One of the things we have embedded in the programme from the beginning was to involve the students. So, the maintenance of this plant will be by the students of the university.
“There will be a teaching and training facility delivered with other aids. Each university model has a training site with it to involve students. So as you graduate, new team of students take over and we institutionalize that policy within each university.”