SOLAR Nigeria has set machinery in motion to boost solar power energy generation across the country with 13million pounds (about N715b), The Nation has gathered. The fund is to help reputable companies involved in the production of solar energy in Nigeria. Giving this hint at the weekend was the Programme Coordinator of SN, Mrs. Ifunanya Nwandu. She spoke at a renewable energy forum organised by “Power for ALL” in Abuja. Solar Nigeria is a Department for International Development (DFID) funded programme which began in 2014.
The programme was designed to end in 2020 with the mandate to provide grants and technical assistance to companies involved in providing household solar technologies. Nwandu said that the grant would help strong companies to accelerate their expansion to provide solar energy for 25 million Nigerians. According to her, SN has also improved energy access for over 1.5 million people since it commenced operation in 2014.
She said that the organisation had been involved in delivering clean, reliable and affordable solar energy to Nigerians. She said this was possible by accelerating the private markets for off-grid solar solutions. According to her, the SN programme had also earlier provided 38 .3 million pounds to Kaduna and Lagos state governments for various developmental projects. She said part of the projects had resulted in the construction of 175 schools and 11 clinics in Lagos and 34 primary health clinics in Kaduna with solar installations.
She said that the combined projects in both states had resulted in the provision of 6MW of solar power. According to her, in 2016, more than 166,000 solar systems were acquired on commercial terms by individual consumers from companies who benefited from the grants provided by SN. She said that SN was also helping to demonstrate how solar systems could be technically viable to drive growth in the private sector solar market
Nwandu said SN was committed to collaborating with the federal government and state governments to improve renewable energy to health and education facilities, particularly in the northern part of Nigeria. In a related development, the federal government has hinted of plans to partner with relevant organisations to workout modalities for the provision of alternative sources of energy and improved wood stoves for the rural population.
Dr Shehu Ahmed, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, made this known in an interview with the weekend in Abuja. “We need to increase the use of cooking gas, liquefied natural gas, while increasing plantation of woodlots in communities or individual farms and avoiding indiscriminate bush burning,” he said.
According to him, government has put in place some strategies to keep the forest safe. This, he said included control of wood exports to ensure forest conservation, engagement of wood-based industries in reforestation and afforestation, enhancing conversion efficiency and increasing value additions for processed wood before exportation.
He, however, said that stakeholders needed to do their bits to ensure the stoppage of deforestation. “We all need to plan and protect our forests everywhere and anywhere, and continue to raise awareness on the need for sustainable preservation of our forests for the future generation,” he said. Ahmed said that the federal government would intensify environmental education in schools and roll out new public awareness programmes on forest conservation and community participation. “Awareness creation on the importance of forest to sustainable development is very critical and that is why we want to catch them young.
“This will also highlight the impact and consequences of human activities on the forests and socio-economic development as well as mobilise all stakeholders against deforestation.