By Simon Echewofun Sunday
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has flagged off process to build solar mini-grid plants in 66 communities and connect 2.5 million people across 12,422 households nationwide
The Managing Director of REA, Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi in summary sheet said the Nigerian Electrification Project (NEP) covers 66 communities in four states comprising Niger, Sokoto, Ogun and Cross River during Phase I.
She said about 24.5 megawatts (MW) of electricity will be generated in the benefiting communities to energize 1,710 local businesses.
The REA State Coordinator (Niger) and Team Lead for the State, Abubakar Ahmed noted that REA has four coordinators in four states with five teams each to sensitize communities on the impact of the solar electricity mini-grid being deployed nationwide.
While sensitising residents of Tasha Hajia, a yam produce and grain marketing hub in Niger state, Abubakar said with their consents, REA and World Bank will engage mini-grid developers based on grants to energize the unserved communities.
He said: “This provides electricity to communities that are unconnected to the national grid, increase business productivity by replacing generators and lanterns with reliable electricity.
“It will also improve your community’s security through street lights, provide clean and affordable electricity to the rural dwellers here, Abubakar told the people in Hausa.
With the consent from the communities through their Electricity Users Cooperative Society (EUCS), the mini-grids are expected to be operational in the second quarter of 2019.
After filling his consent form, the District Heat at Tasha Hajia, Alhaji Muhammadu Kolo said, “My subjects will support the project as they have been starved of grid electricity. I learnt it will solve energy needs for our businesses too and we are grateful but we don’t want it to be erratic.”
At Etsu Tasha community near Bida in Niger state, the Deputy Head, Mohammed Gana lauded the initiative as he gave his consent to cooperate with developers being sent by the federal government to execute the project shortly
A youth at Etsu Tasha, Musa Aliyu said they travel for about 10 kilometres to the nearest town to their electricity needs adding that with such initiative, Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) could spring up.
Maryam Abubakar who hopes to run a beverage store using freezer and other electrical appliances if the mini grid project is executed in Etsu Tasha.