With the signing of the 2023 Electricity Bill, into law by President Bola Tinubu, described as a visionary policy enabling state and local governments, alongside private entities, to actively participate in the power sector, the Rural Electrification Agency, REA, is more energised to deepen its power infrastructure within the solar and mini grid space.
Our correspondent reports that solar is now the cheapest form of power available. Recent data shows that the price of solar energy equipment has dropped significantly. For instance, between 2010 and 2021, the weighted average cost of electricity for large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) infrastructure fell by 88 per cent.
This staggering drop is partly due to technological advancements and increased production. But it is also a result of governments’ policies and incentives as well as innovative financing models.
The West Africa experiences high levels of sunshine, presenting the region with a unique opportunity for harnessing solar energy. However, the region hasn’t yet been able to take advantage of the lower costs of PV technologies and attract investments to deploy them on a large scale.
It seems the problem is widespread across the continent. In 2021, only 0.6 per cent of the $434 billion dollars invested globally in renewable energy production went to African countries, the lowest investment since 2011.
REA’s NEP Project
The Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) is a nationwide initiative aimed at delivering energy access to un- and underserved communities in the country.
The project supports Nigeria’s goal to increase electricity access across the country as defined in the national development agenda, aiming to provide electricity to households, small-to-medium-sized enterprises, and public institutions in a least-cost and timely manner through off- and mini-grid solutions.
The Project will contribute more than 500,000 people obtaining access to electricity; approximately 76.5 MW in increased installed power generation capacity; eight universities obtaining access to reliable sources of energy; 20,000 Micro-Small and Medium- sized Enterprises (MSMEs) supported/supplied with productive use appliances and equipment; and the avoidance of 1.69 million tons of CO2 emissions. NATIONAL ECONOMY understands that it has four main components, namely: Mini-grid systems installed in 250 sites; 24,500 productive use solar PV appliances installed; Mini-grid systems installed in eight federal universities; and institutional capacity strengthening provided to REA and ecosystem.
The NEP’s objective is to provide over 500,000 people with access to affordable sources of electricity.
The project specifically aims to promote technologies and business models that are emerging in Nigeria.
The NEP aims to support the acceleration of Nigeria’s mini-grid and off-grid sector and facilitate the entry of new market participants, especially the private sector.
Its implementation will contribute to catalyse the development in the off and mini-grid particularly the selected areas where energy access is a challenge.
Over 600,000 people, approximately 100,000 households, 70,000 MSMEs, and eight universities will receive new or improved access to electricity services as a result of the project.
The project will create an enabling environment for private sector involvement. Women across all beneficiary groups will receive increased opportunities through a range of integrated activities including collection of sex-disaggregated data, gender-targeted marketing.
Our Correspondent reports that that the success of Green Village Electricity, GVE’s is powering Nigeria’s progress toward universal energy access by 2030.
To support this goal, the country is also taking steps to ensure it provides comprehensive regulations and an enabling environment for mini grid developers.
The REA) is playing a key role in this transformation.
Through a 5- year NEP that utilizes a $350 million loan from the World Bank, REA will support the development of mini-grid projects by the private sector serving at least 300,000 households and 30,000 local enterprises in close to 10,000 communities.
The emergent mini grid sector in Nigeria is poised to grow rapidly with at least seven domestic companies other than GVE developing mini grids that represent a pipeline of over 1,000 projects. Local companies with large power requirements, such as those providing telecom and agricultural services, are also expected to be prospective mini grid developers. International mini grid companies like Husk Power and Powerhive and global conglomerates like GE, ABB, Siemens, Schneider Electric are also exploring the the potential for mini grids in Nigeria.
The REA has also launched an initiative called “Energising Economies” that promotes mini-grid development in areas that have the potential to bolster the country’s economy with the right infrastructure and are chosen based on the level of commercial activity and their role in increasing local production of goods, which point to a high demand for electricity.
Celebrating New Milestone
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA), in its avowed commitment has expanded its partnership initiative to deploy more power infrastructure across community settings across the country.
The agency is deploying more mini grid facilities in line with President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, focusing on revamping Nigeria’s power infrastructure to provide equitable access to electricity across the nation.
Minister of power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu,while applauding transformative roadmap of the REA, said with its determined effort rural communities in Nigeria will soon begin to experience economic and social transformation.
The minister also stated that the agency’s commitment aligns with the 2023 Electricity Bill, signed into law by President Bola Tinubu, which he described as a visionary policy enabling state and local governments, alongside private entities, to actively participate in the power sector.
Chief Adelabu, who spoke while inaugurating Nigeria’s first 352.24KWP Interconnected Hybrid Solar Mini-Grid Plant in Toto Community, Nasarawa State, stated that, “the legislative milestone has paved the way for projects like the Toto MiniGrid project to electrify rural communities, demonstrating the administration’s commitment to socio-economic empowerment through energy access.
“This pioneering project not only reflects the current administration’s dedication to renewable energy but also sets a benchmark for the integration of mini-grids with the national power infrastructure.”
He applauded the Rural Electrification Agency for achieving yet another incredible milestone with the project which was done in collaboration with Powergen Nigeria Limited and Abuja Electricity Distribution Plc (AEDC).
This 352kWp solar hybrid mini grid project is a testament of renewed efforts of collaboration between the federal government and the private sector towards closing the electricity gap in Nigeria.
The 352.24KWP Interconnected Hybrid Solar Mini-Grid Plant in Toto is the first of its kind in Nigeria, designed to provide reliable, renewable electricity to a significant number of households and businesses.
The project aligns with the Federal government’s goal of achieving universal electricity access by 2030 and is indicative of the progressive strides being made in the Nigerian power sector.
The Interconnected Solar Hybrid Mini-Grids developed by PowerGen is the outcome of the World Bank Funded Performance Based Grant (PBG) Component of the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP).
The interconnected mini grid currently provides reliable electricity to more than 2000 Households, 141 Commercial Users, 18 Productive Users and 45 Public Users in the community to improve the socio-economic life of the community.
Conceived under the REA-NEP funded initiative, the project was brought to fruition through collaborative efforts with PowerGen Interconnected Nigeria Limited.
The minister urged other developers to follow PowerGen’s lead in bringing electricity to the rural populace and appealed to the Toto community and the Nasarawa State government to protect this crucial utility and ensure its sustainable operation for the benefit of all.
Managing director of the Rural Electrification Agency, Engineer Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, stated that, “The successful completion of the Toto Mini-Grid project is a testament to the power of partnership and innovation in driving rural electrification in Nigeria.The REA remains committed to fostering an environment which encourages similar sustainable and impactful projects nationwide.”
Managing director of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Plc (AEDC) Mr. Christopher Ezeafulukwe highlighted, “Our collaboration with POWERGEN and REA in the Toto MiniGrid project underscores the significant role of DisCos like Abuja Electricity Distribution Plc in supporting renewable energy initiatives and enhancing the grid with sustainable energy solutions for underserved communities.It is a proof of what can be achieved when we work together, and we are immensely proud of this achievement.’’
Powergen Country Director, Seun Edun Stated that PowerGen and Abuja Electric Distribution Plc (AEDC) teamed up to pioneer a groundbreaking approach to improving energy access in Nigeria through an interconnected mini-grid model – designed to cater to the energy needs of underserved areas at affordable tariffs below the associated costs of using petrol or diesel generators.
Toto community, with more than 2,800 households and businesses now enjoys electricity supply from the interconnected mini-grid which is projected to offset 1,920 MT CO2e annually.
REA’s Overall Task
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) is the Implementing Agency of the Federal
Government of Nigeria under the Federal Ministry of Power tasked with the electrification of unserved and underserved communities to catalyze economic growth and improve quality of life for Nigerians.
The Agency was established under part IX, Sections 88- 89 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA), 2005.
The REA is currently implementing the Rural Electrification Fund (REF), Capital Projects, Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP), Solar Power Naija (SPN), Energizing Education Programme (EEP), Energizing Economies Initiative (EEI), Energizing Agriculture Programme, (EAP), Energy for All – Mass Rural Electrification and Research and Innovation Hub.