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REA: Private Sector Driven Rural Electrification Projects Most Sustainable

REA: Private Sector Driven Rural Electrification Projects Most Sustainable

Oluchi Chibuzor

The  Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has stated that private sector-driven rural electrification projects remain the most sustainable partnership to penetrate and perpetuate access to electricity in rural regions of the country.  

It disclosed that since its establishment in 2006, it has not only taken deliberate steps to ensure that qualitative and world-class projects are delivered to rural areas, which are mostly underserved or unserved, but has also ensured that the sundry projects were sustainable through viables markets, financing and a solid business case.

The REA is currently undergoing some reforms, particularly in its internal functions, which will foster adherence to standard operating procedures in its activities, ensure that staff members are not working in silos, and ramp-up capacity building to deliver on its mandate.

Speaking to journalists at the REA staff retreat, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the REA, Ahmad Salihijo, disclosed that the retreat which attracted all the staff of the agency, and has in attendance the entire power sector players, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Auditor-General, Accountant-General, anti-graft agencies, and other relevant stakeholders was designed to get all partners on board with focus on the reforms his administration is driving, .

He stressed that for rural electrification projects to be sustainable, whether they are mini grids, solar home systems or grid extensions, state governments and local communities must take ownership.

While noting that there is an urgent need to galvanize local funding for rural electrification projects, and foster Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), Salihijo said: “When we came into the institution in late 2019, what became paramount is that the institution wasn’t really doing what it was supposed to be doing, both in technical works and operationally in terms of how a typical government organization works.

“As much as changes wanted to be made, we were also very restricted because we also had a situation where we had to continue working. These reforms had to be done around the people and processes in the institution, and the systems that were put in place. One of the first things we did was to do a five-year plan. Knowing that my tenure was going to last five years, this is just me now internally looking to see what I hope to achieve in terms of the five years.”

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