Akpabom Community Welcomes Electricity as FG Commissions Solar Mini Grid

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Off-grid power plant has become a new bride embraced by all as the Federal Government continues to gladden the hearts of unserved and underserved communities across the country with uninterrupted energy through its off-grid power initiatives. Sunday Ehigiator reports on the latest of such projects in Akpabom Community, in Akwa Ibom State

Committed to meeting its developmental goals by ending electricity poverty in every community across the country by providing uninterrupted and sustainable power, the President Buhari-led administration, under its Next Level agenda, has achieved another milestone in the South-south region of Nigeria.  On Thursday, October 31, 2019, it commissioned a 100KW Solar Hybrid Mini Grid Power Plant in Akpabom Community in Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

Akpabom is a community with a population of over 2,000 people whose major economic activities are fishing and farming. Implemented by Rural Electrification Agency (REA), the project, which was the third to be commissioned under the Rural Electrification Fund (REF), would provide clean, safe, affordable and reliable electricity for the community members.

With this newly installed solar mini grid plant, Akpabom Community has now joined Upake (80KW) in Kogi State and Kare-Dadin Kowa (98.8KW) in Kebbi state in experiencing improved socio-economic progress.

An address delivered by the Executive Director, Rural Electrification Fund, Dr. Sanusi Ohiare on behalf of Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Rural Electrifcation Agency, Damilola Ogunbiyi, emphasised federal government’s commitment to meeting its developmental goals by providing electricity access to all. She stated: “As an agency, we are responsible for powering unserved and underserved communities, therefore, it is fulfilling every time homes, businesses, schools and medical centres are connected to sustainable solar power. 

Almost immediately, we are able to witness rural communities being transformed with clean energy through the jobs that are created during construction, to their micro and small businesses scaling to larger capacity thanks to reliable electricity.

“What we are witnessing today is a result of the hard work of Nigerians who are determined to see positive transformations in our power sector and in Nigeria. The Federal Government, under its Next Level agenda, is committed to providing access to clean, safe, affordable and reliable electricity across the country. This includes rural areas without electricity access for many years.

“The Rural Electrification Fund (REF) is dedicated to ensuring the distribution of electricity equally to various communities using rural electrification grants. The first set of grants under REF is for twelve communities, of which Akpabom community is the third to be commissioned.”

Ogunbiyi urged the community to use the newly installed electricity to grow their local economies; start new businesses as she is confident that they now have the reliable electricity to power shops, cold rooms, schools and much more.

Commending the developer for his commitment to duty by bringing the dream of the agency to reality, Ogunbiyi praised GVE Projects Limited led by its Chief Executive Officer, Ifeanyi Orajaka for their skills and dedication to finalize this project. “I urge you to continue your good work by embarking on more power projects. Nigeria needs many more indigenous companies to meet the growing investment opportunities in our evolving off grid sector. Tell the market that we are open for business.”

Thanking her team at REA for their support especially the Executive Director, Rural Electrification Fund, Dr. Sanusi Ohiare, Ogunbiyi hailed them for achieving another significant achievement. She also thanked the community leaders and the members of Akpabom for their support. “This power plant stands here today because you made it possible for work to be done smoothly. I wish you all the best as you begin to reap the benefits of your good decision.”

She concluded by thanking the federal government for giving REA the task of electrifying unserved and underserved communities, supported with policy and funding assistance to accomplish our mandate. 

The representative of the Clan Head of Oning Clan, Eteidung Udo Akpan, expressed his community’s pleasure to the federal government in providing them with this basic social amenity. “I consider it a blessing that this project, which will change the lives of people in our community, is being implemented during my tenure as Clan Head. 

“For many years, we have looked forward to the day that our children will be able to read at night without depending on harmful kerosene lamps. Our businesses are now fully operational; especially at night. Our fishermen are able to preserve their fish and businesses in general are growing. Today is indeed the beginning of better things to come for Akpabom. 

“We are happy that out of the thirty-one Local Government Areas in Akwa Ibom State, our community was selected for this transformative project. 

On behalf of the people of Akpabom, I express deep gratitude to the Board and Management of the Rural Electrification Agency; and the developer – GVE Projects Limited for ensuring that this project was successfully implemented. I assure you all that the entire community will maintain and protect the power plant from vandalism and theft.”

 Commending the laudable effort of the federal government and the REA for implementing this project at Akpabom community in partnership with private developer, GVE, and support from Akwa Ibom State Government, member representing Onna state constituency,  Otuekong Nse Essien, said “ the newly installed solar mini grid plant will put an end to the community’s hardship. Electricity leads to economic prosperity. The people of Akpabom now have power for productive uses, businesses will thrive and education will improve. We can now move beyond the days of darkness. With this we are indeed grateful.”

Enumerating the benefits of the newly installed mini off grid, Orajaka, said the installed solar hybrid mini grid power plant, which has a total capacity of 100KW, has 306 high grade solar panels and 5.5KM of distribution network cable, which now serves the community with constant electricity through the 440 buildings successfully connected to the mini grid. “It is a thing of pride that GVE, an indigenous Nigerian firm, can be a part of developing Nigeria’s rural areas. Thanks to this project, Nigerian solar developers, like myself, can access these investment opportunities and participate in growing Nigeria’s evolving off-grid sector. 

“We could not have achieved this without the support of the community leaders and people of Akpabom. GVE utilised the community’s labour force thereby training and providing them with employment. It is gratifying that we not only supplied electricity, but have contributed to the economic advancement of Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria, by extension.”

Orajaka thanked the district head and member of the community for their support towards the completion of this project. Mrs. Ogunbiyi and Dr. Ohiare, for their support in championing the private sector participation in the renewable energy space in Nigeria.   He concluded by encouraging Nigerians to embrace renewable energy as the world is moving towards clean energy.

In his vote of thanks, Director, Rural Electrification Fund, Bulus Maiyaki said the solar being commissioned was as a result of dedication, hard work and collaboration produces results of collaboration among the federal government, state and local governments and the private sector: “

It is evident that the Federal Government of Nigeria is committed to ending electricity poverty; and with the projects commissioned across communities, we are getting closer to our goal of ensuring that standards of living are improved using clean, safe and reliable sources of power.” Bulus thanked the Ministry of Power and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission for the support the Rural Electrification Fund has received as well as support of Akwa Ibom State Government led by Governor Udom Emmanuel and his cabinet in their determination in seeing that the good people of Akpabom Community are energized. 

Bulus thanked all the stakeholders involved in this life changing project such as  the Ministry of Power and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission for the support the Rural Electrification Fund has received. 

He also thanked the traditional leaders, people of Onna Local Government Area and Akpabom Community as he believes their leadership has nurtured a peaceful and hospitable community that supported  the agency’s efforts during construction.