From left: Mr. Yusuf Suleiman, MD Blue Camel Energy; Dr Nicholas Baamlong, Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (UATH) representing the Chief Medical Director, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Prof. Bisalla Ekele; Yakubu Abdullahi, Director Admin & HR at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) representing the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu; Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Malam Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, an official of NCDC, and Dr. Sanusi Ohiare, the Executive Director, Rural Electrification Fund, REA at the handing over of the 53.1kwp solar plant to NCDC at UATH, Gwagwalada, FCT by REA on Wednesday. Photo: REA
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has commissioned four solar power mini-grid plants at the Isolation Centres in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States with 14 days, to provide uninterrupted power supply as health workers battle to treat rising cases of COVID-19 nationwide. The Managing Director of the REA, Malam Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad said the initiative was a swift response to a national call on agencies by government to intervene in the ongoing fight against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on 29th March, 2020 in a national broadcast on COVID-19 pandemic, charged all agencies and well-meaning Nigerians to support the federal ministry of health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic. As the supervisory minister of the REA, the minister of power followed up with a directive on the 31st of March, 2020 itemising palliatives for the power sector, specifically mandating the agencies for full implementation.
Even before the directive by the minister, the REA has been implementing the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP), Energizing Economies Initiative, Energizing Education Programme, Rural Electrification Fund (REF), Energy Database and Capital projects
Solar power facilities completed in 2 weeks Speaking on the agency’s role at this period of national emergency, the REA Chief, Ahmad, who provided a background on the projects, said the agency launched some emergency programmes to install Solar Home Systems (SHS) and solar power mini grids at the isolation centres for COVID-19 and other healthcare centres nationwide.
According to him, the agency is mindful of the impact of reliable electricity access, especially at this difficult time and will continue to engage with stakeholders to complement the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 among others to ensure that the pandemic is contained and managed effectively. The emergency programmes began around 3rd of April 2020, using renowned solar power firms that include Blue Camel Energy.
By 15th of April, 2020 (Wednesday), REA had handed over two completed solar hybrid mini grid plants in Abuja and Lagos to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 through the NCDC. Two other completed solar hybrid mini grids were handed over on Thursday in Ogun state. The fully installed solar hybrid projects are 53.1 kilowatt power (kwp) solar mini grid at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH) COVID-19 isolation centre, and the 25kwp mini grip solar plant at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Public Health Laboratory in Lagos. There is the 20kwp solar hybrid mini grid at the 128-bed Ikenne Isolation Centre in Ogun State, and the 10kwp mini grid solar plant at the 100-bed Iberekodo Isolation Centre still in Ogun State.
“This initiative is being implemented by the agency to complement the efforts of the federal and state governments as well as the private sector in containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country,” Ahmad noted. Expatiating further shortly before he handed over the UATH facility in Gwagwalada in Abuja, Ahmad said, “The REA being the implementing agency of the federal government for the electrification of un-served and underserved areas across the country hereby provides and hands over this 53.1KWp solar hybrid mini grid at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital COVID-19 Isolation Centre.
This project is one of initial four solar hybrid mini grids implemented by the REA at COVID-19 health facilities. “Implementing these projects will provide clean, safe and reliable electricity to enable our health workers thrive towards the fight against this Covid-19 disease,” he said. In his remarks at the event, the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu who was represented by Yakubu Abdullahi, the Director for Administration and Human Resources at NCDC, said, “We applaud this generous gesture by the Rural Electrification Agency of providing these solar hybrid mini grids to COVID-19 isolation centres and the public health laboratory in Lagos state. This will truly help our health workers in containing the spread of COVID-19 in the country”. Responding, Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee, UATH, Dr. Nicholas Baamlong, who represented the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of UATH, Prof. Bissalla Ekele, on behalf of the beneficiary institutions of the solar mini grids, thanked the federal government and the REA for delivering the projects towards combating COVID-19.
They expressed optimism that the projects will provide constant power to the centres to help combat COVID-19 and will also provide conducive environment for patients to recover from this disease. In spite of this milestone, REA said it will complementing the efforts of the federal government towards containing the spread of COVID-19 while it continues fulfilling its mandate of providing clean, safe and reliable electricity to rural areas across the country. Mamman lauds agency on prompt completion of project The Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman, yesterday lauded the management of REA for timely completion and commissioning of the four power projects in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States.
The minister, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Aaron Artimas, said the ministry swung into action through REA to ensure constant and uninterrupted power supply to the centres for the effective fight against the coronavirus. The minister also said the mini-grid solar powered plants will provide clean, safe and reliable power to avail health workers a conducive environment to maximise their efforts while providing the patients with an excellent atmosphere to recuperate.
President Buhari had directed in his March 29th national broadcast that some critical sectors of the Government should provide maximum support for the fight against the COVID-19 malaise in view of its far-reaching negative socio-economic implications for the country. The minister immediately issued the directive to power sector agencies on that. Rising swiftly to that, REA said the solar plants were effectively installed within a short period of time following the instructions of the minister.
Artimas said the REA boss said the projects were handed over to the Presidential task Force on COVID-19 through the NCDC, without fanfare in view of the physical distancing order of the federal government.
The NCDC which has taken control of the facilities applauded both REA and the federal ministry of power for the gesture, saying that it would go a long way to assist in curtailing the spread of the coronavirus in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that in recent times, the REA has also been working with the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to accelerate grant disbursement to qualifying developers of SHS and mining-grid projects under the ongoing NEP.
This is even as it is intensifying the REF fund disbursement for ongoing projects, as well as engaging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the ministry for inclusion of energy access companies and off-grid power developers under the COVID-19 intervention programme of the apex bank.