- Posted by Kieth Oliver
- On October 20, 2015
- 0 Comments
While inadequate supply of electricity has been identified as one of the factors responsible for under-performance or sometimes outright collapse of industries in the country, little has been said about its impact on the lives of thousands of rural dwellers who are not connected to the national grid and as such, denied access to basic amenities that make live worthwhile.
In order to meet their energy needs, these neglected members of the society are consigned to hewing firewood for cooking, rely on kerosine lanterns, traditional oil lamps, and adopt other sources of power generation which are not only harmful to their health, but also damaging to the environment.
It is these thousands of off-grid communities that the Bank of Industry is targeting through its Solar Energy Partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Under the programme, the development finance institution is providing a long-term financing for the installation of off-grid solar home systems in six communities in a pilot phase. The decision of BoI to fund renewable energy project, environment experts said, is in line with the policy direction of the present administration.
According to them, apart from being the first President that openly made concerns for climate change part of his campaign issues, Mohammadu Buhari, had during the just concluded Nigeria Alternative Power Expo(NAEE), called on investors in the power sector to shift emphasis towards environmentally friendly alternative sources of power generation in order to protect the ecosystem.
Meanwhile, apart from the already commissioned 24KW micro-grid solar electrification each in Bisanti, a remote village in Katcha Local Government Area of Niger State, and in Ife-North LGA in Osun State, the project is to be replicated in four other communities, namely: Ogbekpen, Ikpoba in Okha LGA, Edo State, Kolwa Kaltunga LGA, in Gombe State, Onono, Anambra West LGA, in Anambra State and Carwa/Cakum, Markarfi LGA, in Kano State. The over 200 rural dwellers in each of the community that are captured in the project, are expected to have sufficient solar electricity to power three LED light bulbs, one electric fan, one radio/TV set and Mobil phone charging.
Unlike in the grid system in which electricity bill is by fiat, the solar power system will be anchored on ‘Pay-as-You-Go prepaid technology. BoI Managing Director, Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa, noted that the need to impact on the lives of thousands of people that are not connected to the national grid in remote villages in the country, was the driven force behind the project. According to him, the rural electrification solution would not only help in reducing the rural-urban migration, it would help to preserve the lives of the people as well as the ecosystem.
He said, “Those that are worse hit by the current electricity situation in the country are the rural communities, especially the off-grid areas which have always been without electricity and have resigned their fate to the use of kerosine lanterns, oil lamps and other types of dangerous and unhealthy sources of light to be able to live their daily lives.
“Firstly the installation of off-grid solar home systems in the two communities will help developing the communities. Secondly, we can begin to see a slow down in rural urban migration, and possibly a reversal. It is a model we are deploying in six communities across the six geopolitical zones.
“Solar is a green energy that relies on energy from the sun. The solar panel stores energy and the one that is not used during the day is stored in a battery. It is a self-sustaining model, environmentally friendly and we are proud to be supportive of the process.”
Olaoluwa, who said the bank’s medium term vision was to install solar systems, through the combination of micro-grid and stand-alone solar systems in 100,000 homes in the next fives, also expressed his readiness to partner with states government and private investors with a view to replicating the project in other communities across the country.
While urging the nation to tap into the abundance renewable energy sources in the country he, emphasized that”Renewable energy such as hydro, wind and solar are growing in relevance and commercial adoption on a global scale. The critical role of renewable energy was reemphasized at the G7 summit which held in June,2015, where the leading industrial nations agreed to decarbonise the global economy by phasing out the use of fossil fuels by the end of this century.”
An environmentalist, Dr. Patric Tolani noted that the project would help to stem the tide of deforestation occasioned by felling of trees to generate energy. He said that preliminary studies carried out by Community Energy Africa had revealed that the project was also capable of offsetting thousands of carbons per year.
He added,”A cursory look at this community will no doubt reveal that the people depend wholly on woods and kerosine for their energy needs. In this case, they rely on trees, which they constantly cut down for domestic use, causing deforestation with its attendant consequences on the lives of the people and the environment.
Having a project like this will offset carbon that goes to the environment. “Also, against the backdrop of the community reliance on lanterns, people inhale a lot of smokes in the process and that definitely affects their health. We have calculated that through this project, we are going to offset several thousands of carbons a year.
And I can assure that the offset, in the near future, can translate into carbon credit which I can categorically say, can be fed back into the community for development. On ways of ensuring the sustainability of the project, Tolani who is also the Chief Executive Officer, Charity Aid and Development Foundation for Africa, explained that apart from the fact that GVE, the project contractor would be available to provide a stand-on assistance in the engineering aspect, the most viable way to make it enduring was through community ownership.
“This commissioning of the project will not end the relationship, GVE would have their engineers here, like the one in Igbeke. The one in Igbeke has been running now for three without one day downturn. This project will be run by GVE Project Limited to manage the engineering aspects.
The good thing about solar is that you don’t need to buy diesel, you don’t need to buy any fossil fuel. It is from the sun. “However, it is also important we make the community part of the project so that they see it as their own. We are looking at the opportunity of issuing shares to members of the community so that they can’t read the asset as their own.
They can have share ownership, and not just that, shared posterity. I can say to you that if we are able to work that out, when their is profit, they will get dividend,” he added. Also speaking, the Managing Director, GVE Project Limited, Ifeanyi Orajaka, stated that that the project would help the beneficiaries to conserve money, adding that the cost of purchasing kerosine lamp, candles and generators was capable of constituting a strain on the pocket of ordinary people.
He noted,”Before now, this community used to rely on kerosine lamps, candles and generators. You and I know that apart from being unclean, unhealthy to both human and environment, they are generally expensive to operate. But with this solar energy system, they are now introduced to clean, reliable and affordable power solution.”