‘New REA Boss, Ahmad, Will Sustain Access to Renewable Energy’

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Goddy Egene
Climate Finance experts have said the appointment of Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) will sustain access to renewable energy sources.

REA was created by the Electric Power Sector Reform Act in 2006 to facilitate the provision of affordable power supply for residential, commercial, industrial and social activities in the rural and semi urban areas of the country using renewable energy sources.

And the 2020 capital budget of the REA has a 25 per cent allocation to the provision of renewable energy in Nigerian universities. This is the largest allocation in the REA budget to a single project and is the continuation of the Energising Education Programme (EPP) which had its pilot funding in the 2017 budget.

Experts said Ahmad, who was an anchor within the then Minister of Environment Office (Amina Mohammed (now Deputy Secretary General at the UN)), responsible for the issuance of the N10.69 billion green bond, will bring his wealth of experience to bear in running the affairs of REA.

The green bond raising process required navigating the intricate federal government administrative procedures to ensure that projects selected remained in the budget, appraisals where done on each project to identify the climate benefits as well as the financial models and Ahmad was said to have played a major role.

A climate finance expert, who was also part of the team said: “Even when Mohammed departed to the UN, Ahmad was able to continue the process under Ibrahim Usman Jibril (the Minister of State for Environment at the time). The issuance of the green bond drew on development partner support through which the World Bank provided support for a team of technical specialists to extract the climate, economic, social and finance benefits of the projects.

“Private sector involvement was required through the Financial and Legal Advisers in the preparation of a detailed prospectus for the issuance of the green bond.

“An advisory group of which Ahmad was central to assembling and guiding the course of discussions towards the issuance of the green bond was established. Two road shows were held in Lagos &Abuja, respectively supervised by Ahmad that resulted in oversubscription of the green bond, with 70 per cent taken up by local pension funds.”

EEP took up 80 per cent of the pilot green bond with N8.5 billion and three of the EEP projects as of September of 2019 had been completed and launched with the others nearing completion.
“And with Ahmad as MD/CEO of REA, these projects would be sustainable not just from a climate perspective but a financial one. REA can expand the sustainability framework across its projects and grow the use of climate finance while also contributing to the achievements in the targets in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets,” he said.

The new REA boss has a degree in Electrical/Electronic Engineering from Leeds University in the United Kingdom (UK) and two master’s degrees in Development Studies. He came to the new position with a background working on public private partnerships at the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the project team at the Ministry of Finance and the issuance of green bond.