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Rural Electrification agency adopts new measures

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…targets 500,000 small firms in 5years

By Udeme Akpan

Expectations were high that the privatisation of Nigeria’s power sector in 2013 would culminate in increased generation, transmission and distribution of electricity to consumers nationwide for some reasons. First, the private sector was perceived as having adequate resources to boost investment in the sector. Second, the investors were also expected to possess the discipline and management skills, capable of driving operations in the sector.

But this has not been the case, barely five years after the privatisation of the sector.

Investigation by Vanguard showed that many parts of Nigeria do not have regular supply, even as the sector is threatened by many problems, including poor equipment, vandalism and liquidity challenges.

Meanwhile, the Rural Electricity Agency (REA), has adopted new measures, targeted at delivering power to off grid consumers in different parts of the nation.

A country that exports jobs, imports poverty

Disclosing this at the inauguration of Sura Independent Power project, over the weekend in Lagos, Managing Director/CEO of REA, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, stated: “Today is a remarkable day, not just because we are providing electricity to over 1,000 businesses in Sura Shopping Complex, but because it represents the success that we can achieve when a committed group of institutions and individuals from the public and private sector join together to achieve a common goal. Our goal is to increase economic growth by providing micro, small and medium sized enterprises with the tools to achieve their full potential.

“The new board of the Rural Electrification Agency was constituted 18 months ago with a clear mandate to provide electricity through sustainable off grid solutions to underserved and unserved communities and MSMEs. This is a commitment made by this administration to increase energy access and the use of renewable energy solutions. In response to the mandate REA developed the Off-Grid Electrification Strategy that includes five key elements.”

New measures

She said: “The first is the Energising Education Programme which will provide adequate power supply to 37 federal universities and 7 university teaching hospitals across Nigeria. This project includes a generation plant, upgrade of distribution network, street lighting for the entire campus and a training centre for renewable energy at each university. Currently, construction has begun in 9 federal universities and one university teaching hospital across Nigeria.

“The second part of the strategy is the Solar Home System Initiative, this is in partnership with the World Bank and aims to provide 1.5 million Nigerian households and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with better and affordable access to electricity services via stand-alone solar home systems which will be provided and maintained by the private sector

“The third is the Solar Minigrids Initiative which is also in partnership with the World Bank and aims in the first phase to provide clean, affordable and reliable electricity to 250 off-grid communities that require less than 1 MW per mini grid. There is also a private sector driven initiative.

“The fourth is the Nigeria Energy Database which is an online platform that provides developers, and the public with online visualisation of resources for energy development. This initiative is of particular significance because REA prides itself in fostering data-driven decision making. It has successfully established the sector’s first online database that is a dynamic tool which is available on the REA website.”

Ogunbiyi said: “The Energising Economies Initiative aspires to increase energy access and economic growth by assisting private sector developers to provide clean, reliable and affordable power to economic clusters, such as markets, shopping complexes and agricultural/industrial clusters. Over the next 4-5 years, we want to reach 500,000 small businesses within 350 economic clusters.

“The role of FGN through the REA is critical to the success of this initiative. This includes providing data like energy audits, programme management support, community relation support and stakeholder management. The programme support for this project is also being provided by Power Africa through technical assistance support from Deliotte and Mckinsey. We appreciate their support and contributions.

Expected impact

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the expected improved supply will impact positively on small businesses nationwide.

Osinbajo, who stressed the importance of adequate and stable power to the nation’s economic development said: “The Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP), has given over N15 billion in interest-free loans ranging from N50, 000 to N350, 000 disbursed to more than 350,000 market women, traders, artisans, farmers across all 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory.

“About 56 per cent of these loans have gone to women. Under GEEP, this administration has partnered with banks to facilitate micro-credits and again, we are already seeing significant impact thanks to those strategic partnerships.”

He said: “The N-Power programme, our graduate employment scheme now employs 500,000 young men and women in every local government of Nigeria. I am proud to state that it is the largest post-tertiary jobs project in Africa.

“The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), coordinates the efforts of 10 government ministries, agencies, state governments including that of Lagos State, the National Assembly, the private sector and the donor community to simplify the government regulations and processes that have made it difficult for you – our hardworking small business owners – to thrive.

“The results from these partnerships have been astonishing. The cost of registering a business has fallen by 30 percent. The time required to get a construction permit in Lagos State has fallen by 60 percent. I congratulate Lagos State for this result.

He stated: “Our work is recognised across the world. Last year, the World Bank ranked Nigeria as one of the top10 most improved countries with regards to its business environment. Our overarching goal in this administration is to implement improvements, reforms and interventions that will be visible not merely in these global rankings, but impactfull in the lives and of business owners and entrepreneurs across the entire country. This cannot be achieved without Government partnering with private sector, development partners and fellow Nigerians after it has created the enabling environment.”

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