Chris Edeh August 18, 2017 No Comments

Opportunities for PayGo solar system is huge in Nigeria

Yuri Tsitrinbaum, CEO Lumos Nigeria, offering paygo solar solutions reaching over 200,000 households, tells BusinessDay’s ISAAC ANYAOGU and TELIAT SULE how Lumos is deepening PayGo Solar adoption in Nigeria and what can be done to diversify the country’s energy mix.

Tell us a little about your Nigerian operations, and why you decided to come to here.

Looking globally, Africa is a big market and Nigeria is by far the biggest market in sub Saharan Africa. This problem of power is not only in Africa. Asian countries like Pakistan and India, are struggling with high population growth and infrastructure gap, which leaves many people in the dark.

We put together an electricity service through a mobile operator (MTN) that is affordable and reliable. This enables scalability, reach to the customers and flexibility of payment for the service.

There is a huge need for power in Nigeria. Today, people use mainly generators to solve the problem of access to electricity. We put a more affordable solution to the table. For the cost of an hour and half of small generator, (power ratings below 2KVA), you can enjoy 24 hour electricity.

What is the size of your market?

We launched officially in February 2016 after the pilot was started in 2015. Today we have a customer base of over 40,000 subscribers, which means that we have over 200,000 Nigerians benefiting from the service, if you consider the size of an average household in Nigeria.

Customers can join the service in over 300 outlets around Nigeria at an MTN store. We have over 500 employees and beside the core staff, there is an ecosystem of installers that we train and set up, there are close to 1000 of such.

Nigeria’s energy mix is 85% gas-fired plants, the rest is from hydro and an insignificant portion from solar, can this drive the economy?

Clearly everyone feels this gap (power), and it shows there is need to improve. There are two ways to improve – on the grid, and offgrid. Ongrid solutions that will feed the grid including traditional power plants and renewables, but we still have to factor in generation, transmission and distribution. Today there seems to be more problems with transmission and distribution than generation. It is relatively easy to plan a field that will generate electricity; the challenge is to manage the electricity via the existing infrastructure.

The second solution is through offgrid, which is where we come I, to play. Our system is in essence generation, transmission and distribution, all in one pack. It takes about 9 years from the moment you start thinking about building a power station until it generates electricity that is besides transmission and distribution challenges. With our solution, it takes days. The fact that it relies on solar gives you peace of mind. So for energy mix, I suggest two layers of discussion, traditional or ongrid and offgrid solutions.

Nigeria is looking to grow small businesses because it is a driver for employment, how does your solution fit into the plan?

We actually didn’t think of small businesses initially when we came into the market. Today, micro businesses are a key segment. If you speak to any person that runs a business, like a barber shop, a provision store, a boutique, a phone charging station booth, or a small office, they will mention power as a heavy cost before rent.

NOI polls show that over 60% of small businesses spend over N500 a day for fuel for generators. It may sound small but when you think about it in terms of a month or year in comparison with the revenue from the business, it can actually make the difference between keeping the business going and closing it.

We have a strong proposition. What many small businesses need is to charge a laptop, a fan and light and that is enough to maintain continuity. So instead of using their generators for 5 or more hours they can use our system and making savings when they spend N150 instead of up to N1000 using small generators.

Speaking about capacity, can I use your system to run a frozen food shop for example?

We ensure that product capacity is communicated clearly to our customers because it is a five-year relationship with full warranty and repair services. The system can deliver 6 hours of 4 bulbs to your businesses, 3 to 4 hours of fan, 3 to 4 hours of television, charge your phone,  hair clipper, these are the key things it can do. Refrigeration is not included.

Can a customer request for increased capacity?

Our key message is affordability. We are a mass market product so we focus on the most common need and the bigger piece of the market. If we give a capacity that will cost N20,000 a month, how many of our potential consumers would actually buy into that? So at this price and this capacity, we believe we have close to 7million potential customers in Nigeria. If we increase the price, the number drops dramatically. We are focusing on the most essential needs of households and the business.

There are concerns about periods of high rainfall and little sunshine, how effective is your system under this condition?

Solar energy of course depends on the sun. The panel ratio to battery is designed such that you need 4hours of light in a day to make a full battery charge. We often have more than that. If the sunlight is not very efficient, it will still charge the battery because what it needs is the radiation.

Naturally if it is a very cloudy day, it will not recharge itself as it should but that is what our customers have learnt to manage. When it is cloudy they use less battery to preserve it for the next day.

What is the outlook for PayGo solar in Nigeria?

I think there is a huge opportunity in Nigeria. Unlike East African countries like Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania where there are millions of systems in use, Nigeria is just adopting the systems.

Financing is a potential bottleneck for this business, we pay upfront the full cost of the product and it is only as customers join the service and pay for the service that we get money back, pay our debt and get money for our investors so there is a huge opportunity for scalability.

What are your biggest challenges operating in the Nigerian market?

It will be better if we have a NHS code that will make it easy to bring in the systems. Also things like zero tax, zero VAT, will encourage the market. We want to be recognised as solar players so that the solutions can be more affordable.

Chris Edeh July 25, 2017 No Comments

UK to invest in Nigeria’s energy sector

Britain has expressed its readiness to invest in pipeline infrastructure, renewable energy, gas and power of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry.

British High Commissioner, Mr. Paul Arkwright, made this promise when the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, visited the Chancery of British High Commission in Abuja.

Mr. Arkwright noted that the British Government had genuine investment interest in the Downstream, Midstream and Upstream sectors, stressing that the British Department for International Trade was ready to liaise with the Federal Government to invest in the country.

The High Commissioner also urged the Federal Government and the NNPC to organize a road show in London to create awareness on the possible investment opportunities available in the Nigerian Oil and Gas sector.

Mr. Arkwright said so many British investors had funds which they were willing to invest in Nigeria, stressing, however, that the process of obtaining Nigerian visa in United Kingdom was cumbersome with three different levels of visa procurement fees as well as Nigeria’s postal order system.

NNPC’s spokesman, Mr. Ughamadu, on behalf of the Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, condoled with the British Government over the recent terror attacks in the United Kingdom.

Ughamadu, who lead the NNPC delegation, commended the High Commissioner for the Commission’s promptness in issuing visas to officials of the Corporation. He assured that NNPC would sustain the cordial relations.

Chris Edeh July 21, 2017 No Comments

Expect More Electricity Supply Next Month, says Fashola

Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has assured Nigerians that electricity supply to homes will improve from next month.

Mr. Fashola said this while delivering a lecture at the University of Lagos on Thursday.

In his lecture titled “Power sector reform In Nigeria: challenges and the way forward”, the former Lagos state governor said, “We are working round the clock to solve the (power supply) problem. We are going to get more power by August.

“How we get equipment, transformers, and all of the equipment needed within the next cycle of 60 to 90 days is critical so that we don’t lose all that energy that is coming from the raining season,” he added.

Commenting further, Mr. Fashola said “If you don’t pay for electricity, you have violated a law. But we are now trying to make that law stronger, and we are looking at how to include fines and to increase the consequences. We want to make it easier to comply than to violate.”

“There are different types of consumers and therefore they require different kinds of meters. Meters are calibrated differently for each distribution company. So, the meter that Ikeja disco has – if you move them from Ikeja disco, they must be recalibrated before you can use them. If you use the wrong meter, you’ll pay the wrong tariff,” he stated.

On the agitation to cancel the privatisation of the power sector, Mr, Fashola said, “Instead of saying ‘cancel the privatisation,’ I would rather say, let us rework the privatisation and re-engineer it to make it work.

“When people ask us to cancel the privatisation, I ask them how that impacts our moving forward when we demonstrate that we are a nation that cancels a respecting contract. Where are we going to get the dollars to refund (the contractors)? Because they paid in dollars and I don’t think they would accept naira.”

The minister assured that the government would ensure that it makes the system work, adding that cancellation is not the best step to take.

“We cannot keep canceling, there must be a point where we can make things work and I guess that is what this administration is about. We can make it.

Chris Edeh July 21, 2017 No Comments

DisCos Want GenCos’ Capacity Charges Erased From Energy Invoices

Some Distribution Company (DisCo) operators have frowned over their payment of ‘capacity charges’ for investments made by Generation Companies (GenCos) in the monthly bulk energy invoices.

An investor in one of the 11 DisCos told the Daily Trust that the distribution firms are made to pay for Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) of the GenCos through the monthly bills prepared by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET).

He said payment for capacity charge was similar to the Fixed Charges electricity customers rejected which was used for network maintenance and captured by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO).

“The same NERC should remove this capacity charge component so that our monthly energy bill will become less and easier to pay. The NBET said we often pay less than 50 per cent every month but fail to tell Nigerians that the amount we are made to pay for energy has increased tremendously,” the official said.

Corroborating this, the Managing Director/CEO of Kaduna Electric, Engineer Garba Haruna appealed to NERC and NBET to provide a level playing field to all participants in the electricity market.

A statement by the DisCo’s spokesman, Abdulazeez Abdullahi said the Engr. Haruna made the appeal when he received members of the House of Representative Committee on Power in Kaduna last Saturday.

He decried the present billing arrangement where the DisCos ‘are forced to pay capacity charges for investment made by GenCos every month, an amount which is often higher than the cost of energy supplied’.

He described the practice as unfair as it places unnecessary burden on the DisCos. “It is pertinent to note that the monthly bills submitted to DisCos by NBET consist of cost of energy supplied and capacity charges for capital investment made by the GenCos.

“Interestingly, the capacity charges are often even higher than the cost of energy which we cannot transfer to the customers. Your intervention in providing a level playing ground to all participants in the market is highly required,” he told the lawmakers.

Earlier, Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Daniel Asuquo gave the DisCo six weeks to resolve and meter all customers who paid for meters under the wound up Credited Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI) scheme.

He also urged electricity customers to pay their bills saying “payment of electricity bills is an obligation that must be discharged at all time”.

Chris Edeh July 1, 2017 No Comments

UN discovers 93950MW untapped energy sources in Nigeria

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Friday urged the Federal Government to explore renewable energy by utilising the country’s untapped energy sources, estimated at 93,950MW.

Mr Bakary Dosso, the ECA Chief Sub-Regional officer, Data Centre, made the appeal at the launch of the ECA Country Profile 2016 Report for Nigeria in Abuja.

Dosso said the ECA report showed that Nigeria was blessed with abundant untapped energy resources of about 93,950 Megawatts (MW).

He added that “the country is home to enormous energy resources such as petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear power and tar sands.

“Other resources include solar, wind, biomass and hydropower.

“However, development and exploitation of energy sources has been skewed in favour of hydropower, petroleum and natural gas.

“Nigeria has an untapped potential to produce 93,950MW from carbon-emission-free energy sources, which include small and large hydroelectric power plants, 68 per cent and nuclear power, 21 per cent.

“Also, Nigeria has an untapped potential of seven per cent solar and photovoltaic and onshore wind, two per cent,” he said.

Dosso said in spite of such potential, it was sad that half of the population depended on wood, charcoal, manure and crop residues for energy.

He added that Nigeria had a total installed electricity capacity of 12,522MW and an available current capacity of only about 4,500MW.

He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to seize the opportunities to improve the power situation in the country.

He explained that the country’s energy challenges, especially electricity generation, transmission and distribution were impacting negatively on the economy.

“The lack of reliable access to electricity remains a major obstacle to creating a much stronger and more diverse economy and improving the living standards of the population.

“It is therefore crucial to scale up both private and public investment in the electricity sector.

“For that to happen, the authorities must attract private investment by establishing a clear regulatory framework and aligning their policies so that the infrastructure for generating and transporting electricity can be developed efficiently,” he said.

The Director, ECA Sub-Regional office for West Africa, Prof. Dimitri Sanya, said that accelerating economic transformation in Nigeria required boosting competitiveness and strengthening local production capacities.

“To this end, Nigeria should reinforce its effort to establish a market-oriented policy aimed at promoting a secure, competitive and reliable energy supply and policies that encourages equipment and technology acquisition.

“A clear regulatory framework needs to be established to attract private investment, to keep investing in grid expansion while ensuring routine maintenance.

“The country should further invest in a diversified mix of energy sources through incentive policies in favour of non-fossil energy sources including solar, wind and hydropower.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, said Nigeria recognised the impact stable power would have on the economy.

Udoma, represented by the Ministry’s Director of Economic Growth, Mr Kayode Obasa, said in recognition of this, the Economic Recovery and Growth programme contained critical power projects.

“If you look at the 2017 budget as presented by the Nigerian government, one key area that has been stressed is the power sector. About 50 per cent of the capital expenditure this year is devoted to the power sector.

“We are aware that a lot still needs to be done in the power sector, because once power is addressed, virtually all areas of the economy will be positively affected,” he said.

Udoma reiterated the government’s commitment to diversify its revenue stream away from oil, so as to have more revenue to address critical infrastructure problems.

He said government was presently carrying out many reforms to improve ease of doing business in the country to attract necessary foreign direct investments in critical sectors of the economy, including power.

Chris Edeh June 27, 2017 No Comments

NERC’s mini-grid regulation to improve electricity investment – Industry stakeholders

POWER for All, a global coalition of companies and civil society organisations has expressed optimism over the new regulations for electricity mini-grids by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), stressing that it will enhance investment in the power sector. Mini-grids are electricity supply systems with their own power generation capacity, mostly from renewable energy, supplying more than one customer and can operate either in isolation from or connected to an existing distribution network. The regulations, which are the country’s first for mini-grids, were the result of engagement between NERC and industry stakeholders, covers the licensing, tariff and technical standards for all mini-grids from 0kW to 1MW. The former Power Minister, Barth Nnaji, had said during a Natural Gas Business Forum in Lagos, that hostile operating environment and regulatory challenges are the foremost reasons why Nigeria’s power sector is not attractive to investors. Electricity He said the Federal Government had not addressed major issues that would guarantee the return on investment, citing non-cost-reflective tariff, gas constraints, transmission constraints, non-credit worthiness of the distribution companies, over leveraged power assets, among others, raise the fear of investors.

However, reacting to the new regulations for electricity mini-grids, the Nigeria Country Manager for Power for All, Ms. Ify Malo, said: “The regulations will go a long way to boosting investment in renewable energy through mini-grids and providing electricity to consumers in underserved and unserved areas. In particular, the cost-reflective tariffs and clearly defined procedures for obtaining permits will encourage solar mini-grid developers.” She noted that, “The regulations also define rights for communities being connected to mini-grids in order to protect them, which will encourage communities to install mini-grids for power supply.” Similarly, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian mini-grid developer GVE, Mr. Ifeanyi Orajaka, said: “The signing of the mini-grid regulation into law, marks the beginning of the much-needed disruption that will eventually ensure that all Nigerians, irrespective of the region of abode, will have access to stable and reliable electricity. Orajaka stated that this is a bold step from the Federal Government, adding that “It will go a long way in attracting private investments that will solve Nigeria’s electricity crisis.” Also, the CEO of Arnergy, a Lagos-based renewable energy, and a solar mini-grid developer, Mr. Femi Adeyemo, said: “The new mini-grid regulation is an indication that the Nigerian government is thinking of decentralized renewables in her electrification plan energy mix. Via the new regulations, adoption of off-grid renewable energy in Nigeria is poised to increase localized, rugged, reliable, cost-effective and easy-to-deploy electricity to hospitals, schools, and rural communities enhancing the overall development of the country.”

 

Power for All, a global coalition of companies and civil society organisations campaigning to scale distributed renewable energy, has lauded the new regulations for electricity mini-grids by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission Power for All promotes decentralized renewable energy as the fastest, most cost-effective and sustainable approach to universal energy access. It is present in six countries and has its headquarters in California, USA. In Nigeria, Power for All has been instrumental in the establishment of the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) to enable the private sector be a part of renewable energy policy formulation, supporting the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to integrate distributed renewable energy into its work and facilitating action-oriented collaborations between stakeholders working to build sustainable DRE markets and increase energy access.

Chris Edeh June 26, 2017 No Comments

Community Solar Innovation Awards 2017

Logo Community Solar Innovation Awards

Does your business or not-for-profit organization use solar energy or solar technology to improve the lives of poor communities, especially for women and girls?

Is it eco-inclusive, delivering environmental and social benefits?

Does it involve and meet the needs of local communities?

Does it need financial and business support in order to meet its full potential?

If the answer is “yes” to the above then APPLY NOW for the Hogan Lovells Community Solar Innovation Awards 2017.

Read More 

Chris Edeh June 23, 2017 No Comments

FG releases N701bn lifeline to NBET, targets solar/wind energy

Relief is on the way for electricity consumers in Nigeria as Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said the Federal Government is ready to release the second batch of the N701 billion intervention fund to the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc. It would be recalled that through the European Union and African Development Bank, Nigeria was able to package an intervention fund of N1.5 trillion to boost the energy sector

Disclosing this on Tuesday in Abuja at the inaugural Nigeria Renewable Energy Roundtable organised by the Ministry of Science and Technology in partnership with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and Heinrich Boll Stiftung, Nigeria, Osinbajo said the government was committed to further restructuring the power sector. In his words: “We hope that this injection (of the fund) will help. We are also looking at several other reforms in the sector, hoping that the market can become self-sustaining, independent and runs on its own and frees up all of the private sector energy that is waiting to come into the market.”

According to the Acting President, the government would work with the private sector in developing standardised technology packages for energy delivery services in the country by exploring the opportunities for revolving funds for solar and wind projects, all aimed at creating more opportunities for investment. He further said that:”It is the need to break the deadlock of the electricity market structures the the need to explore the options of transforming the competition for markets’ approach, as well as continuing to embark on a broader restructuring of the electricity sector.

“To do that, we need a framework that brings and keeps all stakeholders together towards ensuring that renewable energy becomes an engine of growth for Nigeria’s economy.” Osinbajo added that the administration’s plan was to expand the Solar Home System programme to one million households, creating a few more million jobs.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was interested in seeing that all rural communities, especially those engaging in agro-based business are given priority attention by the power sector.

“It is in achieving this that the Federal Government had in collaboration with the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, been able to provide a sustainable renewable solar energy solution through end-to-end solution, including a pay-as-you-go system.  “I was in Wuna to see it for myself. For the first time in its existence, the village now has solar-powered running water. The school has power and the school hall is now used as a community hall in the evenings. Each home has four points of light.

“Children can now stay up and do some studying at night. Many of Wuna’s women can now process their millet and yams at night. New jobs have been created, solar installers, maintenance, payment systems and so on, the Acting President stated.

Chris Edeh June 23, 2017 No Comments

NESG Renewable Energy Roundtable: Stakeholders call for effective policy framework, smart financing

Stakeholders in the Nigerian electricity sector, have called for a robust policy framework and smart financing measures for renewable energy in the country.

This was the outcome of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) CEOs Business Roundtable on “Renewable Energy”, in partnership with the Heinrich Boll Foundation.

Considering the huge energy demands in the country, with a teeming population of over 180ml people, the quest for energy mix has become imperative, leading to the 30:30:30 agenda.

The agenda seeks to galvanize efforts in achieving a 30% contribution from renewables to the power equation of 30gw by 2030. This is to tackle the issue of about 100 million Nigerians, that are currently not connected to the electricity grid.

Giving the opening remarks the CEO of the NESG Mr. Laoye Jaiyeola said the  roundtable was focused on establishing the renewable business platform in Nigeria.

Mr Jaiyeola noted that renewables are one of the strongest options for delivering power in Nigeria, and informed stakeholders that the roundtable will encourage and adopt “Made-In-Nigeria” innovative solutions for renewable energy.

Jaiyeola speaking further stressed that the roundtable will intensify the advocacy in the narrative for renewable energy in Nigeria, while it will also discuss investment options in renewable technologies.

Keynote speaker and Research Coordinator, Energy and Climate Policy, Oeko Institute Dr Felix Matthes in his presentation, asserted that at the global trend in energy mix and transition, going renewable is the more robust way, but was much more capital intensive.

Dr Matthes said the key issue for adopting renewables in the case of Nigeria, was identifying the business model that is suitable and adaptable. He said for Nigeria a “Non-technical” infrastructure will be required to ensure a sustainable renewable energy generation.

The German technocrat harped on the need for a robust framework for renewable energy in Nigeria, that has an effective roll-out plan that can drive the entire value chain.

Considering the issues of cost in renewable energy, Dr Matthes said in achieving the set agenda, Nigeria must develop a smart financing structure that attracts investments in renewables.

On the potentials of renewables, Dr Matthes said with a viable public-private partnership, renewable energy will create new businesses and jobs in the country, provide a competitive electricity model and also achieve decentralized electricity in the country.

According to him “In Germany, my country renewables contribute 35% to the power generation”.  Renewables are the energy mix of “Wind, Solar and Hydro”.

Participants at the meeting who made their contributions at the interactive session, emphasized the need for a sustainable Nigerian policy/legal framework and financing model that can make renewable energy a viable segment, of the energy sector.

Chris Edeh June 20, 2017 No Comments

FG plans renewable energy for rural communities

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said Federal Government would provide renewable source of power to at least one million households in rural communities not connected to the national grid.

He gave the assurance during the Nigerian Renewable Energy Roundatable organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology in conjunction with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Recalling how a rural Wuna village in Gwagwalada local government area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which was unconnected to the national grid, got power through renewable energy initiative by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), the acting President said the government through the Rural Electrification Agency is developing an energy database that would show community locations and energy demand profiles, which in turn would save Solar Home System / Solar Mini grid providers time and money.

The success story of Wuna Village, where the inhabitants now have running water, with each home having four points of lights, and many women processing their millets with solar powered light, he said, would soon be replicated in over one million rural settlements across the country.

He said: “We are doing 20,000  more homes in this first phase of this exercise and a Pay-as-you-go system to 20,000 households to provide access to lighting and electric power for small devices. The plan is to expand the Solar Home System program to one million households, creating a few more million jobs.

“The Federal government through the Rural Electrification Agency is developing an energy database that would show community locations and energy demand profiles, which in turn saves Solar Home System / Solar Mini grid providers time and money because we have already identified the communities beforehand.

“We are also championing the use of mobile money for solar home system payments.

“The Wuna home solar project is an example of how we can creatively and aggressively provide power to our people by this pragmatic approach to our energy mix.

“We are convinced that renewable energy probably offers us the most sustainable means of increasing energy access to those who have no electricity and have no immediate hope of being connected to the national grid.”

 

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