The Federal Government will grow the economy by generating power from both on-grid and off-grid sources, Power, Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Raji Fashola has said.
He said generating electricity from these sources was key to realising the government’s economic goals.
Speaking at the inauguration of solar electrification project in Iponri, Lagos, he said provision of solar and other off-grid methods of power generation was inevitable, if the country wants to grow the economy, adding the development informed the decision to support the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to boost businesses with solar power.
He said the government, through a scheme known as Energising Economies Initiatives, has assisted in providing electricity to markets across the country.
He said 700 mini-grids were conceptualised in Iponri market to provide solar power to shop-owners in the market.
Fashola said: “The Federal Government is bouying activities in Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) through various energy sources. SMEs remain engine of economic growth in any nation and the government in realisation of this fact is ready to improve activities in that sub-sector of the economy.
“Markets in places, such as Aba, Warri, Sabon-gari and other areas, are benefitting from the scheme. These markets are enjoying energy that is cheaper, cleaner and highly accessible. Owners of shops are paying between N1500 and N2000, implying that the charges are moderate and good for their businesses. Good in the sense that those business-owners are no longer facing environmental hazards caused by the use of generators, coupled with the fact that they spend a lot of money in fueling their generators.”
He said the charges were cheaper compared to the bills paid by electricity consumers.
Also, the Rural Electrification Agency Managing Director, Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi, said the development of modules for solar electricity by indigenous meters manufacturers was necessary to enable solar energy consumers further minimise cost.
“I cannot advise people we are trying to help build their businesses through provision of solar energy, to procure meters for over N30,000. To me, it is expensive. That is why meter manufacturers should try and develop modules, which would be applicable to solar electricity.” he said.
She said mini-grids serve 450 shops out of 1700 shop at Iponri, adding the shops in the market, were in various tiers depending on their level of consumption on the solar hybrid power system, which has 700 kilowatts capacity.
The Federal Government, through the Rural Electrification Agency, implements the Energising Economies Initiative (EEI), which supports the rapid deployment of off-grid electricity solutions to provide clean, safe, affordable and reliable electricity to economic clusters (e.g. market places, shopping centres, industrial facilities) in Nigeria through private sector developers.
EEI aims to assist over 80,000 shops within a year, empower over 340,000 micro, small and medium size enterprises, create over 2,500 jobs with the initial 16 economic clusters while serving over 18 million Nigerians.
‘’This initiative is already transforming businesses across the country with the steady power supply increasing economic activity, spurring business growth, fostering job creation and enhancing the business experience.
“The solar power solution will eradicate noise and air pollution in the market and has encouraged customers to spend more time in the shop,’’ Mrs Ogunbiyi said.