By Emmanuel Addeh
The federal government has taken its rural electrification drive to Niger State, with the inauguration of a 40KWP solar mini-grid project in Goton Sarki community, Paikoro local government of the state.
Speaking during the inauguration of the power project, Managing Director, Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Mr. Ahmad Salihijo, explained that it was designed to provide clean, safe and reliable energy to the people of the community.
Salihijo added that the benefitting communities would henceforth witness socio-economic transformation due to the availability of reliable and sustainable energy provided in collaboration with the private sector.
According to the REA boss, the programme would aid more equitable access to electricity across regions, while maximising the economic, social and environmental benefits of rural electrification subsidies.
“Through the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) , we have continued to promote expansion of the grid and development of off-grid electrification as mandated by the federal government of Nigeria.
“This solar hybrid mini-grid in Goton Sarki is designed to serve this community while also stimulating productive use amongst community members. I encourage the great people of this community to explore and optimise the usage of this system to help develop this community even better,” he stated.
According to the MD, providing and increasing energy access to millions of Nigerians through off-grid solutions is critical as the end goal is to ensure the equitable delivery of the social and economic benefits that will improve lives across the nation.
He noted that with the support of the Muhammadu Buhari administration as well as the guidance of the federal ministry of power, the objective was to close the energy gap in Nigeria faster.
“We, therefore, have no doubt about the continued impact of the federal government’s power sector roadmap as well as our capacity at REA to leverage on off-grid technologies such as this to transform and catalyse rural socio-economic growth and development in Nigeria,” he emphasised.
In his remarks, the Niger State Governor, Mr. Sani Bello, who was represented by the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed, reiterated the benefits of clean and safe and constant electricity.
The governor stated that it will increase the income of the people in the community through improved business activities as well as improve productivity of the people while ensuring good education for school children.
“I want to assure you that the people of Niger State, will do our best to support this project to ensure greater success and sustainability. Its impact is already changing lives,” he said.
Chairman of Paikoro local government, Mr. Yakubu Yohanna, described the project as a major development as business opportunities in farming, processing, storage and external trades will now become a reality for the people.
The village head, Babangida Sarki, in his remarks, said with the electricity, women will be able to process and store products, while the community will be safer as everywhere will be illuminated.
Managing Director of the partnering company, Mr. Yusuf Ganda, announced that the power plant has a total capacity of 40kW Solar PV peak power which consists of 200 Mono crystalline solar panels, 60kva hybrid inverter, 60 deep cycle storage batteries and wireless IoT smart metering system, the first of its kind in the country.
According to him, the plant has over 1.6 kilometres radius of distribution network cables, while the solar mini grid project now serves over 1500 people in the community with constant electricity and streetlight.