By Favour Nnabugwu
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) will provide electricity for close to 50,000 rural women under a five-year off-grid national power project with funding of $2.9million from Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The project was financed by GEF with $2.6 million and supported by UNDP with $300,000, totalling $2.9million
This was disclosed by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, REA, Engr Ahmed Salihijo Ahmed at an event to mark the formal launch of the project in Abuja.
He said that the project which is titled ‘Derisking sustainable off-grid lighting solution in Nigeria’ will benefit 96,380 persons out of which 47,540 are expected to be rural women.
According to the REA Boss, there is a need for effective collaboration among stakeholders in achieving rural electrification projects.
He appreciated the financial support from GEF and UNDP and said that rural electrification is an indispensable component of national development. He called on the private sector for investment collaborations in renewable energy in the country.
He added that the financial support will go a long way in achieving the overall targets of the programme in line with the mandate of the agency and federal government’s commitment in powering communities across Nigeria.
The Executive Director, Rural Electrification Fund, Dr. Sanusi Ohiare also elaborated on the objectives of the programme as well as its immense positive impacts on the socio-economic development of rural dwellers, and tasked the Technical Working Groups to ensure the project succeeds.
He also emphasized the relevance of the private sector in ensuring access to electricity, especially in rural areas.
Noting that it would be almost impossible for the government to tackle the challenges of rural electrification, Ohiare commended the funding partners for thinking and acting in that direction.
The representative of UNDP, Mohamad Yahya, was optimistic the project will succeed considering the commitment of the partners and the zeal to achieve desired results.
According to the Project manager, Dr. Bala Tyoden, it was designed to develop a private sector-led technology value-chain to make off-grid renewable energy technologies such as solar lanterns and solar home systems, available to rural households who may likely not be electrified until after 2025.
He said “The main aim of the project is to promote private sector investment in sustainable off-grid lighting technologies by establishing a sound policy environment that facilitates the creation of a self-functioning and sustainable market in Nigeria.
According to him, “The project will directly support the implementation of the Rural Electrification Strategy and Implementation Plan (2016) as well as the energy access targets in the SE4All Investment Prospectus.
The project rationale is underpinned by a novel approach to de-risk private sector investments in the market for rural decentralized renewable energy access.
Meanwhile, three components and outcomes have been developed to stimulate the uptake of off-grid decentralized solar technologies such as solar lanterns and Solar Home System (SHS) while UNDP’s de-risking approach would be adopted to as a catalyst for private sector investments in the off-grid rural energy market.