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Nigeria Launches N140Bn Solar Installation, Prioritises Off-grid, Under-served Communities Nationwide

By JAMES EZEMA

Amid inability of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and other power sectors stakeholders, including the power generation and distribution companies, the Nigerian government has embarked on finding sustainable energy solutions in a bid to meet the energy needs of her population.

To this end, the Federal Government has commenced the process of installation of 5 million solar home systems, with special focus on the under-served and off-grid communities across the country.

The move, Abuja Business Reports gathered is in continuation of what the government described as “a coordinated implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) across the country”.

The programme, which is expected to begin next, according to a Source, “will include the assembly and manufacturing of components of off-grid solutions to facilitate growth of the local manufacturing industry, while use of local content will be incentivized”.

However, confirming the development, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity in the Office of the Vice President, Mr Laolu Akande said the work plan for the implementation of the N140 billion Solar Home Systems, a component of the ESP, indicate that the first set of installations will be done nationwide in December 2020.

By its design, the programme will cover up to 5 million households, serving about 25 million individual Nigerians who live mostly in rural communities and not currently connected to the national grid.

Based on the plan of the Economic Sustainability Committee set up earlier in the year by the President who asked the Vice President to chair, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will make available funds to the private companies in the solar power sub sector involved in the manufacture, assembling, installation, servicing of the solar systems, at rates ranging between 5 to 10 percent, way below the current commercial lending rates in the country.

Sources say the objective of providing cheap credit for companies involved in the programme is to significantly reduce the cost of acquiring the system by end users who are Nigerians most of whom are not being served by the national grid.

The reduction in the lending rate will be a big incentive for the private sector under the ESP while also making power and energy more affordable for the 25m Nigerians when compared to consumers of electric power.

The Solar Home System as an important component of the Buhari administration’s ESP is designed as part of measures by the Federal Government to ramp up power supply across the country by catering specifically for communities not connected to the national grid.

It is also part of the administration’s strategy to address the overall challenges and issues in the power sector as Solar is not only cheaper but considered to be cleaner and renewable.

Aside providing access to affordable energy, the objective of the plan is to improve social, economic and environmental welfare of 25 million Nigerians while generating jobs, increasing revenues and import substitution.

Regarding jobs, the ESP 5m Solar installation is expected to create about 250,000 jobs including in manufacturing, assembling, installations, maintenance and payment systems.

However, Abuja Business Reports also gathered that an important aspect of Solar Home System is the option of outright ownership by beneficiaries at a cost ranging from N1, 500 per week to N4, 000 per month depending on the capacities of the desired solar system for a period of three years.

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