By Emmanuel Addeh
About 200 years after Olooji, a community in Ijebu East, Ogun State, was founded, its residents yesterday experienced power supply for the first time with the inauguration of a 100KWP solar-powered off-grid electricity system.
The community of about 4,500 residents, according to the local leaders, has never had power supply nor used basic home appliances because of the absence of electricity since the community was first discovered.
The solar hybrid system was built by the federal government through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) which is saddled with the responsibility of powering unserved and underserved communities across the country.
At the inauguration yesterday, REA’s Managing Director, Mr Ahmad Salihijo said the goal of the government was to deploy the solutions to improve electricity access in communities to aid socio-economic development.
He said: “I am delighted that the people of Ijebu will henceforth enjoy clean, safe and reliable energy as deployed under the first set of grants through the federal government’s Rural Electrification Fund (REF).
“REF is an initiative of the federal government, implemented by the REA to promote off-grid electrification and ensure that electricity is equitably distributed across Nigeria. Therefore, interventions such as these are being delivered across all zones,” he stated.
The REA boss explained that the first set of grants under the REF would see the deployment of over 19,000 Solar Home Systems (SHS).
“The federal government understands the nexus between reliable energy and development. To deliver on our mandate, interventions such as this are designed to deliver the energy needs of Nigerians and enhance the socio-economic status of beneficiary communities.
“This will ultimately boost productivity and provide jobs in the community. With the delivery of this solar hybrid mini-grid, we are positive that entrepreneurial skills and resourcefulness of the people of Ijebu will be improved through the productive use of this infrastructure.
“We strongly believe that the quality of lives will be improved and children will have better learning experiences with access to reliable electricity. This project will enliven this community and expose it to greater investments in the nearest future,” he stated.
In his remarks, the Ogun State Governor, Mr Dapo Abiodun emphasised the need to leverage novel technologies to aid the availability of reliable and sustainable electricity in Nigeria.
Abiodun, who was represented by the Commissioner for Rural Development, Mr Oladotun Taiwo stated that it speaks a lot about fairness when remote communities feel the impact of the federal government.
“I will encourage my people to optimise the use of this new infrastructure. We will also ensure that other facilities within the community get energised through this mini-grid. We must collectively leverage on possible investment opportunities,” he stressed.
In his speech, the Ajalorun of Ijebu-Ife, Oba Adesesan Oguntayo said: “Our main crop is cocoa, kolanut and palm oil and timber merchandising. Light is very important in life and we are happy the federal government is interested in this community.”
Managing Director, ACOB Lighting, the partnering company, Mr Alex Obiechina urged the community to protect the facility, saying that the project was built in conformity with international standards.