First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has urged stakeholders in the agriculture and power sectors in Nigeria to deepen access to renewable sources of energy to fast-track and sustain growth in the country.
The bank posited that this could be achieved by developing and implementing strategies that focus on efficiency, sustainability, accessibility and affordability with off-grid energy systems as drivers.
The Executive Director, Finance of FCMB, Mrs. Yemisi Edun, stated this in her keynote address at a conference organised by the Bank on Energy-Agric Nexus for Rural Economic Development, under the theme, “Stimulating the Agricultural Sector through Off-Grid Energy Development,” held in Abuja, recently.
It was in partnership with the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), The European Union, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP), Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS) Foundation and Power for All.
The conference provided an opportunity for operators in agribusiness and the power sector to engage in constructive and interactive sessions with industry experts and decision makers on harnessing and deploying alternative, renewable, clean and affordable sources of energy, particularly the Off-grid power systems strategy, to stimulate farming.
According to Edun, the bank’s decision to organise the conference was borne out of its strong and consistent commitment towards contributing to the improvement of Nigeria’s energy access.
She said off-grid power systems which are integral parts of solar, biomass, hydro and small wind power systems, offer veritable solutions to the challenges faced by most businesses, including the agric sector in Nigeria.
This is because they utilise locally available renewable resources to provide electricity, particularly to the rural areas where bulk of farming activities take place. In addition, they are more cost-effective than extension of the national grid network.
The Executive Director averred that, “the impact of off-grids as major source of energy for agribusiness has become profound, particularly at a period in which the federal government has demonstrated immense commitment and resources to the sector.
“The growing opportunity for renewable energy in Nigeria, evident in new grid technologies, such as concentrated solar power emerging as competitors to conventional, oil-based power generation, is a step in the right direction.
“As stakeholders, we believe that protecting the environment, conserving our shared scarce resources and responsibly utilising these resources, should be a collective effort,’’ she added.
Edun said FCMB had taken the lead in deepening the renewable energy space through a three-prong approach, namely capacity building, providing access to funding and providing opportunity to connect renewable energy developers with end-users.
She added that the bank has so far executed N16 billion credit enhancement agreements to support mini-grid, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, among others, to ensure an improved supply and better accessibility to clean energy for customers nationwide.
Also speaking at the conference, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Rural Electrification Agency, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, said the agency has developed an off-grid electrification strategy, which focuses on decentralised off-grid solutions and captures several elements, such as solar stand-alone systems, solar mini grids, energizing economies initiative and energy database.
Ogunbiyi, who was represented by the Executive Director, Rural Electrification Fund, Dr. Sanusi Ohiare, stressed that, “we are committed to collaborate with other public and private sector bodies to harness and expand the opportunities in the energy and agric sectors. We are excited that FCMB has shown tremendous support in this direction”.