The role of electricity in every educational institution cannot be overemphasized. Hence many stakeholders in the Nigeria educational sector saw the federal government initiative of providing sustainable and clean power supply to 37 Federal Universities and 7 University Teaching Hospitals across the country as a welcome development.
Although not many agreed with the modalities of the project execution, however, what is off paramount importance is that the actualization of concept which is to provide consistent electricity for these institutions. This definitely is the first step towards encourage research works in these institutions which will in return help drive societal growth and development.
Thus when the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo on Tuesday this week commissioned what is said to be the largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant in Africa at Bayero University, Kano (BUK) under the Energizing Education Programme (EEP), the university community and the educational sector in general applauded the initiative.
According to reports, the 7.1MW solar hybrid power plant will enable the 55,815 students and 3,077 staff in the university community now have access to electricity supply consistently. The project also includes the launch of 11.41KM of solar powered street lights as well as a world class renewables training centre.
The project which is implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), comes under the Energizing Education Programme (EEP), a federal government intervention focused on developing off-grid dedicated independent power plants, rehabilitating existing distribution infrastructure to supply clean, safe and reliable power to 37 federal universities and 7 affiliated university teaching hospitals.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, stated that the programme is in line with the present administration’s Next Level Roadmap and upholds the Federal Government’s adherence to global best practice in the provision of cleaner sources of energy.
According to him, “the Energizing Education Programme is strategic to fulfilling Nigeria’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as we aim to reduce Nigeria’s carbon footprint using renewable energy technologies, in line with the Federal Government’s mandate and unwavering efforts to increase renewable energy.”
In her welcome address, the Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, said, “This is the largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant in Africa, one we, as Nigerians, should be very proud of, thanks to commitment of the Federal Government towards sustainable energy and education. Students and staff of Bayero University, Kano can now experience learning and teaching in a safer, cleaner and more conducive academic environment.”
Commenting on the impact of the BUK solar hybrid installations, Mr. Evangelos Kamaris, Managing Director, METKA West Africa Limited, the EPC contractor said, “the state-of-the-art solar hybrid power plant will result in carbon dioxide savings of 108,875,120Ibs, a feat we as green contractors are proud of.”
Bayero University, Kano is the second project to be commissioned under Phase 1 of the Energizing Education Programme that will deliver clean and sustainable energy to nine federal universities and one university teaching hospital in the next 4 years, using solar hybrid and/or gas-fired captive power plants.
Appreciating the impact project concept as an instrument of knowledge acquisition and transfer, BUK Vice Chancellor, Professor Muhammad Yahuza Bello, noted that, “Under the EEP, students will be responsible for the project’s sustainability thanks to the technical and practical training our students received through construction.”
In his remarks, the Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman, stated that “the Ministry’s power policy specifically targets education to ensure that all federal universities, to begin with, have access to reliable electricity. Notably, the Energizing Education Programme was designed to involve students from project inception for project sustainability.” On his part, the Kano state Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje stated that “Kano State is committed to fostering technical and practical training, therefore, this programme is strategically aligned to our state level job creation and capacity building objectives. Furthermore, as one of Nigeria’s commercial centres, Kano state prides itself in nurturing private sector engagements.” A major highlight of the event was the graduation of 20 female students who participated in the Female STEM Students Internship Programme. The female students, who received practical training during the course of the project construction were awarded certificates of completion.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency (REA) is the Implementing Agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) tasked with electrification of unserved and underserved communities. The Energizing Education Programme (EEP) is one of the initiative of the federal government under the agency is executing. The project includes the provision of an independent power plant, upgrading existing distribution infrastructure, street lighting to improve security within the universities’ campuses, as well as the development of a world class training centre on renewable energy for each university. The programme is being implemented in three phases and funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria, the World Bank and the African Development Bank respectively. On its part, Bayero University Kano under the leadership of Muhammad Yahuza Bello, is said to be aspiring to address African developmental challenges through cutting edge research, knowledge transfer and training of high quality graduates. This explains the importance of the EEP project, with electricity now available the school and students have no excuse not to make themselves proud by providing solutions to numerous challenges facing the continent.