Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) (middle); Ebonyi State Gov. Dave Umahi (next to VP); Damilola Ogunbiyi (fifth left) ; Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba; Sonny Echono and Anita Otubu with a cross section of all-female STEM participants, who received their certificates
• As First Solar Hybrid Power Plant Illuminates FUNAI
As part of efforts to provide uninterrupted electricity to Nigerian students through off-grid captive power plants, the Federal Government last week commissioned 2.8MW first solar hybrid power plant at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (FUNAI) in Ebonyi State. But the value-addition to the feat was the training in renewable energy received by 20 all-female STEM students. They were presented with certificates of completion during the commissioning ceremony.
The emerging renewable off-grid energy sector, being driven by the Federal Rural Electrification Agency (FREA) is poised to generate significant impact for Nigerian markets, underserved communities, teaching hospitals and higher learning institutions.
The project was commissioned by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
While reiterating the federal government’s commitment to bring positive change to the educational system through its Next Level roadmap agenda, Osinbajo expressed optimism that the project would provide sustainable decentralised energy to the entire campus, improve education and create a better university experience for both students and staff.
He said, “Gone are the days where students read at night with candles, lanterns and torches. Our young people are willing to learn and they have great aspirations. It is our duty to aid them to accomplish their goals by providing a conducive learning environment for them. I am glad to be a part of this great feat.
“As additional components of this remarkable project, we are also commissioning a renewables workshop/training center to promote renewable energy training and installed over 7.5KM of street lighting to enhance security and safety within FUNAI campus. Our students will not only reap the benefits of clean, reliable and affordable electricity, they will also receive hands-on training on renewable energy which can be applied beyond the walls of this university.”
Osinbajo added that the multi beneficial project under Energizing Education Programme would last for the next four years as the train of progress moves to Bayero University Kano (BUK), Kano State and Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun (FUPRE), Delta State where it would commission another projects over the next couple of months.
Also speaking, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, noted that the youth are the most important resource for future socio-economic development.
She added that her office is saddled with the responsibility of providing reliable, affordable and sustainable power to 37 federal universities and 7 teaching hospitals through solar hybrid and gas-fired power plant solutions, rehabilitation of existing distribution infrastructure, installation of street lights for illumination and improved security within the beneficiary university campuses and construction of training centres to train students on renewable energy technology.
“This project is the first to be commissioned. EEP projects in Bayero University, Kano State and Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, in Delta State, will follow with commissioning scheduled within the next couple of months. This project is a testament to this administration’s commitment to increase energy access, promote the use of renewable energy solutions, improve the quality of education within secure and safe learning environments, empower female students and create jobs.
“The solar hybrid power plant commissioned has a total installed capacity of 2.8MW, which will result in 8,139,208Ibs of annual carbon dioxide savings. This is sustainable, clean and efficient energy at its finest, ultimately improving Nigeria’s ecological footprint. Furthermore, the installation of 7.5 KM of street lighting has already made the university environment harmonious, comfortable and ultimately safe. It is important to note that there is an innovative educational component to this project, which is the construction of an onsite world-class workshop and training centre, aimed at providing training in renewable technology to students of FUNAI.
“As we step into a future filled with smarter and cleaner technologies, we look forward to continuing to energise education and creating jobs through the remaining phases, for which the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has secured funds for Phase 2 and Phase 3 from the World Bank and African Development Bank respectively, under the Nigeria Electrification Project.”
On his part, Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi expressed gratitude for the project, while reiterating the state’s commitment to quality education.
“Ebonyi State is committed to ensuring that high quality education is accessible to all – an education that produces driven, skilled and talented professionals that will be the engine for our growth and development as a nation. What better way to do this than having access to educational facilities powered by reliable clean energy?
“I want to assure you that we, the people of Ebonyi State, will do our best to support this project to ensure greater success and sustainability. Its impact goes beyond improving quality of education, but it has also provided a total of 108 jobs for Ebonyi indigenes and will create more during the operation and maintenance of this project. We look forward to witnessing the Federal Government replicate similar projects that will improve the quality of education, the economy and lives of Nigerians.”
Vice Chancellor of FUNAI, Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba said it was a privilege that the institution is one of the flagship learning institutions paving the way, adding that the gesture would provide a secure and safe learning environment.
“You may be unaware, but Ebonyi State used to be among one of the educationally disadvantaged states. But over the last 8 years since the establishment of this university, we have grown by leaps and bounds. We have developed a learning and research center that offers students the latest in computing technology, new library facilities and a sports village.
“We are now, also proud to add, the first solar hybrid power plant to be commissioned at a Federal University in Nigeria in addition to a renewable energy workshop/training centre and streetlights across the entire university that will provide a secure and safe learning environment.”
Permanent Secretary, Federal Minstry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono said, “It is no secret that a good education has the power to change a life. Education empowers minds that will be able to conceive good thoughts and ideas.”
In her votes of thanks, head, Special Project, Rural Electrification project, Anita Otubu thanked President Buhari and Prof. Osinbajo for their zeal and commitment to increasing electricity access and improving the quality of university education in the country.