NEP: REA Extends Power Supply to 5m Nigerians Through 995,000 Solar Systems Connections
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA), through the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP), a private sector driven federal government initiative, has ‘electrified’ over 5 million Nigerians, Managing Director of the agency, Salihijo Ahmad, has said.
Speaking during a press briefing in Abuja, Salihijo, who was flanked by the erstwhile Head, Project Management Unit (PMU) of the REA, Anita Otubu, stated that 995,396 Solar Home Systems (SHS) had been deployed, with the achievement of 1.021 million connections.
In the process, under the NEP programme alone , he said, 1,151 persons were employed while 67 mini-grids were completed.
A breakdown of the figures, Salihijo said, showed that 328,765 female-headed households were electrified, while 249,193 tonnes of carbon emissions were saved from being unleashed into the environment.
In addition, the REA boss noted that 52MW total PV capacity was deployed, seven Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contracts nwere signed while 26 containerised solar systems were deployed in hospitals.
Furthermore, Ahmad stressed that the whole 36 states of the federation as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) benefitted from the projects.
The NEP seeks to bridge the energy access deficit by providing electricity to households, small businesses, educational and healthcare facilities in unserved and underserved rural communities through the deployment of mini-grids, SHS, captive power plants and productive use appliances to ensure sustainability of these off-grid solutions.
To support the implementation of the NEP, the federal government, through the REA, had successfully secured financing from both the World Bank ($350 million) and the African Development Bank ($200 million).
Stressing that the figure being quoted as ‘unelectrified’ for the country could still be as high as 80 million, Ahmad stated that while before now, the REA was waiting solely for government funding, it has now devised new means of financing power projects.
However, he stated that if that government strategy continued for 100 years, nothing much will be achieved, stressing that as an agency, the REA has moved on to become a hub and enabler to ensure that funding comes from multiple sources.
According to him, some programmes were also designed for the private sector to be able to take advantage of the sector including the capital subsidy, where the public and private sectors collaborate, and which has become an international standard in the sector.
Ahmad added that this gave birth to the NEP, where two international development partners came in through a multilateral debt of $550 million to support electrification through the private sector.
He explained that the programme was designed in such a manner that delivery of infrastructure is solely based on the performance of the private sector, which will come in and identify needs but are not paid till they complete the project and run it for three months.
He stressed that the provision of power remains a viable business in Nigeria, noting that the REA has begun the implementation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and had done a thorough technical evaluation of its projects.
Also speaking, Otubu stated that $64.8 million has been disbursed so far while commitments has climbed to about $392 million, with more outcomes expected further to sealing more agreements.
Outside the NEF, Otubu said there are other specific projects designed for special purposes including electricity for agriculture, healthcare, energising the economy, the schools and others.
She listed five components of the programme as the solar hybrid component, solar home systems, the productive use of equipment and appliances component, energising education programme component and the technical assistance component.
“From those 67 mini grids, we have mentioned the COVID-19 and beyond programme and deployed 26 containerised solar hybrid solutions to 26 health care facilities,” she said.
According to her, gender mainstreaming remains a huge part of the what the NEP programme does, with households headed by women, being positively impacted.
The total of $550 million loan facility from the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) is being targeted at providing off-grid reliable and clean electricity supply to 90,000 small businesses and 400 primary healthcare centres.