By Omosola AkingboyeÂ
It was hope came alive for the un-electrified rural Nigerians as government, donors, and private investors in the renewable energy, gathered recently in Abuja for a far-reaching commitment to undertake projects that would accelerate the growth of the distributed renewable energy (DRE) market as a means to reaching Nigeriaâ€™s population currently without electricity.
At the â€˜Call to Actionâ€™ event put together by the global Power for All, a network of operators and parties advocating for the use of renewable energy to reach parts of African suburbs that are currently not connected to their national grid` with special focus on Nigeria, the heartbeat of the continent that has suffered energy shortfalls that mitigates her economic growth over the years.
Participants at the event gathered to create more awareness on the importance of renewable energy (DRE) in achieving energy access, and more importantly to ensure that the Nigerian market develop faster by spurring government at all levels, as well as private sector, members of civil society groups, and other stakeholders to take concrete and collective steps towards driving and achieving energy access targets in Nigeria.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Power Sector) Mr. Louis Edozien, while delivering his keynote address at the launch of the Nigeria â€˜Call to Actionâ€™ on Renewable Energy, stated that renewable energy sources are very critical to achieving incremental power as there are no threats of vandalism as currently experienced with the gasâ€“ pipelines, saying it could give clean energy and lead to the required leap to the electricity supply chain.
â€œIn continuation of its efforts to ensure the provision of electricity 24/7 for all Nigerians, the Federal Government has reaffirmed its commitment to support the growth of renewable energy in the country.â€
Mr. Edozien described the provision of electricity in smaller ranges as laudable, adding that government on its part had already embraced several similar initiatives as could be seen from its revival of the Zungeru 700MW Hydro Power project and the Mambilla 3050MW project amongst others in the country.
On the governmentâ€™s commitment to scaling the DRE market in Nigeria, Edozien said the government was looking to the private sector to lead and drive the sectorâ€™s growth in the country. He added that a lot of policies to help achieve this have been enacted by the government.
However, several commitments were made by stakeholders, particularly investors in the renewable energy sub-sector, raising Nigerian hope that they are in for business if all hands are on deck.
Corroborating individual membershipâ€™s commitment, on how to take Nigeria out of wood as regards lingering energy short fall in the country; the President, Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN), Mr. Segun Adaju, in a separate interview with Energypost Africa, though commended the efforts of the present government for its attention towards renewable energy potentials, Â he therefore clamour for a better regulation that will strengthens alternative source of generating electricity for the deprived Nigerians, which he described as toxic free, safe and economical in all ramification.
â€œThe Association brings together all stakeholders in the renewable energy sector in Nigeria. We realised that there was no strong industry body for advocacy and ensuring standards are well regulated. Late last year, with the support of GOGLA, Power for All, the Nigerian Economy Summit Group and a few other stakeholders, we were able to incubate the organisation.â€
â€œUltimately our goal is to ensure that Nigeria begins to take renewable very seriously. Our vision is to achieve 40% renewable in the energy mix by 2030. So far so good, we have been able to get the attention of the relevant stakeholders in Nigeria and we have over 100,000 registered members.â€
On how foreign investors viewing Nigeriaâ€™s market and REAN preparedness for competition, Adaju who is the Chief Executive Officer, Consistent Energy Limited, was quick to declare an open field; he said electrifying Nigeria is the priority which he said come first at this time saying provided Local content principles of the land is adhered to. Â Adaju said a research by his organisation showed that Nigeria is the net importer of generators with about 70 million generators brought in the past few years.
He noted that the worsening electricity situation was making Nigerians to seek solace in alternative energy supply, adding that the issue has depleted savings of many individuals and organisations. Adaju, whose firm specialises in generation and provision of solar energy for individuals and communities nationwide among several commitments speech at the â€˜Call to Actionâ€™ event, Â said Nigerians could replace their generators with solar energy and other renewable, and in return, get better and safer services.
â€œNigerian market has huge opportunity for renewable. It has the business environment that is encouraging for investors and stakeholders so I believe with the right policy framework and with the work of bodies like the REAN and other the work of organisations like Consistent Energy and most of our colleagues and members here present as you can see the large turn out of companies in the renewable business, which I am the President, it shows renewable are possible. Because of some of the success factors that we have recorded in the last year or so, we have attracted the attention of key players in other countries. For example, Azuri Technologies, Lumos, and BBOX have entered the Nigerian market and Mobisol is also considering doing the same. These companies have been able to prove that the market is viable and we can surely attract foreign playersâ€.
â€œOur vision is to achieve 40% renewable in the energy mix by 2030. And so far so good. We have been able to get the attention of the relevant stakeholders in Nigeria and we have over 100,000 registered membersâ€ Adaju said..
Contributing, the Acting Managing Director, Rural Electrification Agency, Engr. Â Mohammed Abubakar Wasaram revealed federal governmentâ€™s plan to inject substantial fund in the 2017 budget to revamp electricity in which according to him, renewable electricity source is largely captured.
â€œAt the moment, there are projects across states that are at the completion stage, among which are of the alternative power generation schemes. Over fifty of such projects are ready for commissioning as I speak to you.
â€œConsidering the economic predicaments of the nation, you should not expect to get all you need at the same time, but there are plans by the government, especially on the implementation of the existing projects, because in the past ten years, there is no such on ground until this government came and Mr. President himself has approve a lot for the agency, so this government is commendable.â€
â€œIn the Executive budget for 2017, sum of N2b has been earmark for the Rural electrification, it is now the duty of the executive to implement same and allow the REA to take off, so we expect the budget to be pass as soon as possible.
International donors at the event also reiterated their commitment towards the Nigerian off-grid access to electricity.
â€œThere are ten to millions of Nigerians who donâ€™t have access to electrical power, we are not saying the country is not making progress in its efforts, but there are challenges that are facing the market in Nigeriaâ€ Mr. Keith Hammond, the Infrastructure Adviser in Nigeria for UK Department of International Development, which based in Abuja snapped.
Analysing the road map of his agency and plans to join the federal government of Nigeria in solving energy deficiency through alternative energy source, Hammond reiterated UK Aid commitments thus:
â€œWe are doing a lot of support to the Nigeria government in terms of its power sector reforms as a whole. Secondly, we have a lot of support which is focus on renewable sector, and most times our support is focus on governments at state levelâ€
â€œWe have two main components and focus more of our support to renewable. One part is the support to solar energy market in Nigeria. That has been provided in a number of ways, all efforts is gear towards lightening Africa.â€
â€œWe focus our support to businesses that are expanding, we have provided grants to a proportion of businesses to help them expand into areas, and that varies depends on specific cases and focus.â€
â€œWe have quiet numbers of Nigerians who have come up with proposals and business plans, we are at selection process. We have about seventy thousands of people last year alone, which is significant share of the market.â€
He therefore calls on federal government to buckle up in its effort in creating an enabling environment for the energy market to thrive;
â€œNigeria is the fastest in terms of renewable energy growth in Africa last year, and quiet large numbers of foreign investors are investing heavily in Nigeria electricity market and our hope is that the rate will grow in renewable energy and millions will be serve within a year or twoâ€
â€œThough there are issues that need resolved from what we are getting from the federal government and the for strong support by government to the energy business
â€œIn all I think government is catching up but they need a lot more because government is the main provider of energy to businesses and employment generation. Â One cardinal goal is to strengthens Nigerian economy as a result of its fast growing population, we understand they are facing a lot of challenges, but at the same time they have to support the renewable potentials to give Â access to the people who donâ€™t have access to the grid, and I think our view is quiet similar to the government if they can provide some funding to the critical areas such as access and providing enabling environment such as in the areas of regulations and tariffs, in order to ensure businesses are running and expanding as quick as possible, Hammond stressed.
Marta Neves Abrantes, the Programme Manager (Energy) for the European Union Delegation to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the ECOWAS states, disclosed that the Union so far have expended 159m Euro in grants for renewable energy and energy efficiency:
â€œWe have pushed the sum of 159m Euro in grants for Renewable Energy and energy efficiency in the country. The grants are being channel into different energy program in the country and under different agency. All of this is for Nigeria energy program, which is aimed at helping to improve regulatory framework and also through the commercial banks access.
â€œFifty percent of Nigerians have no access to electricity, and I believe that the attention are being generated on decentralized solution to this problem, awareness are being generated with what Power for All is doing.
On projects so far handled by the European Union in Nigeria and those in pipeline, Abrantes speaks:
â€œIn terms of our commitment to the sector, I will like to let you know that, the European Union has approved its grants to twenty eight member states in terms of amount of funding. We just decided on the continuation of the Nigeria energy support program for the 2017, the extension for the next three years is of improving access to power in the country. She added.
Earlier, the Countryâ€™ Campaign Director, Power for All, Mrs. Ify Malo stated that â€˜Call to Actionâ€™ campaign seeks to advance decentralized, renewable energy as the key to achieving universal access â€“ quickly, cheaply, and sustainably.
She noted that the event is the culmination of the first phase of the Power for All campaign as an important milestone in the acceleration of the decentralized renewable energy (DRE) market growth and draws on the work of stakeholders, partners and that of global and in-country campaign teamsâ€™ efforts and commitments.
Malo emphasized that while the government has made efforts and continue to make efforts towards resolving the issues with the Nigerian national grid, it is obvious that the grid would still be unavailable to a large percentage of the population for awhile, while those connected to the grid, continue to struggle issues of constant and reliable electricity supply.
According to her, electricity access is fundamental to socio â€“ economic development in the country, disclosing that the launch of the â€˜Call to Actionâ€™ by the global Power for All Campaign is simultaneously taking place in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone.
â€œAfter a series of consultations, our campaign in Nigeria was officially launched on June 1st 2016 and it has been a very busy and exciting nine months for us.â€
â€œAs I speak, 93 million Nigerians lack access to electricity while the connected population continues to struggle with epileptic power supply.â€
â€œDecentralized energy solutions are not new to the country. Over 60 million Nigerians and most businesses in the country use diesel/petrol generators as an alternative to the grid due to its unreliability and inaccessibility.â€
â€œIn rural and semi-urban areas, kerosene continues to be widely used as a common source of lighting and cooking across many parts of Nigeria. These solutions are very expensive (and for instance, running a private generator costs N62-94 per kWh compared to N26-38 per kWh for the grid)â€
â€œThey cause pollution and exacerbate climate change, and lead to unsafe, and significant health hazards by their use. To emphasize how expensive running generators are, recent data by the Good Governance initiatives estimates that N3.5 trillion is spent annually by households, small scale business and manufacturers to power diesel/petrol generators in Nigeria excluding maintenance costs.â€
â€œFor instance, in the 2017 budget, the Federal Government of Nigeria, its agencies, ministries and institutions is expected to spend N8.4bn on the maintenance, fuelling and purchase of new generators for the 2017 fiscal year alone. Out of this budgeted figure is the maintenance of generators amounting to N1.8bn; fuelling amounting to N4.1bn; while the purchase of new generators will cost N2.5bn.â€
â€œAt Power For All, our campaign focused on building a sustainable market for a sustainable technology. We advocate passionately for DRE solutions in Nigeria and around the world. We believe that electricity access is fundamental to the socio-economic development of the country and DRE technologies provide a clean, cost-effective, safe and very effective solution compared to conventional alternatives.â€
â€œI will end by saying that Nigeria currently has the largest DRE market potential in Africa and seated here today are the key players who will drive this market to achieve its full potential and deliver access to energy for millions. We have moved the first gear in this journey and are very excited about the prospects of this industry especially in contributing to the socio-economic development of the country and helping solve our electricity predicament.â€ She stressed.
Other key government agencies that vowed their commitments to support the â€˜Call to Actionâ€™ initiative of Power for All, are the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Agency (NERC), Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), Rural Electrification Agency (REA), among other local and foreign investors in the renewable energy industry.