Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The United Kingdom has set up another funding window to improve electricity access to Nigerians and 14 other African countries, especially vulnerable rural communities and marginalised groups, using clean off-grid solar electricity.
Expected to last for the next four years and funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the programme – Africa Clean Energy Technical Assistance Facility (ACE-TAF) was recently launched in Nigeria to catalyse the country’s solar market and enhance access to stand-alone solar among these vulnerable groups.
According to a statement from the ACE-TAF, the programme launch brought together 45 stakeholders from across the energy sector in Nigeria the country.
It stated that in attendance were government representatives from the federal ministries of power, finance, women, youth, and environment, as well as representatives from the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to the statement, there were also representatives from the off-grid renewable energy industry including donor and development partners, industry associations, investors and financiers, market accelerators and support organisations, and solar companies, adding that the launch came at a time when the Nigerian government embraced off-grid solutions as part of the country’s energy mix to provide reliable energy access for millions of Nigerians.
The statement noted that the ACETAF was designed to follow up on the UK government’s commitments in the DFID Energy Africa Compacts.
It added that the programme would catalyse a market-based approach for private sector delivery of high-quality stand-alone solar systems in the beneficiary countries, as well as complement government, private sector and donor initiatives to overcome the barriers preventing the development of off-grid solar markets.
This, it said would lead to improved access to modern energy services for vulnerable rural communities and marginalised groups in 14 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.
“In Nigeria, ACE-TAF aims to complement government, private sector and donor initiatives to overcome many of the barriers preventing the development of markets for high-quality stand-alone solar (SAS) systems.
“The programme will support the Nigerian government’s rural electrification strategy, facilitate the attainment of its renewable energy targets and support policy and regulatory reform leading to increased energy access, especially for marginalised and vulnerable persons and other initiatives to catalyse private markets in clean energy solutions in the country,” the statement explained.
The statement quoted the Team Leader of ACE-TAF, Pauline Githugu, to have said in her remarks at the launch, that the implementation of the programme will be comprehensive.
“Electrification is a right for all. The private sector will work with government in give-and-take to ensure this. We will be working closely with all of you,” Githugu, said.
Similarly, the Assistant Chief Electrical Engineer at the ministry of power, Mr. Temitope Dina, stated that the ministry looked forward to leveraging the country’s burgeoning solar market to drive up energy access in Nigeria.
Dina, said: “The ministry looks forward to partnering with ACE-TAF to enhance the stand-alone solar market and solve the basic energy needs of rural and vulnerable people as it will help in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 7 of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy access for all.”
The statement also noted that the programme would work in close partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF).
It thus quoted a representative of the IFC, Mr. Allwell Nwankwo, to have said that: “It is a great time for ACE-TAF to come into Nigeria. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is one of the forerunners in the renewable energy sector and will be working with ACE-TAF on the adoption of national standards for stand-alone solar solutions in Nigeria.”