From left: Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi; MD, PowerGen Renewable Energy Nigeria Ltd, Alastair Smith; Practice Manager of Energy Climate Finance & Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP), Rohit Khanna; World Bank’s Task Team Leader, Jon Exel; Minister of State for Power, Mr. Goddy Jedy-Agba; World Bank’s Country Director in Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri; Engr. Ibrahim Panti; Mrs. Solanke, and the Head of NEP Project Management Unit (PMU), Mrs. Adejoke Odumosu at the unveiling of 64KWp Solar Hybrid Mini Grid Project at Rokota community in Edati LGA, Niger State on Saturday
The power deficit has been an albatross for too long in Nigeria but the Federal Government and the World Bank are collaborating to improve access to electricity across communities through the mini off-grid Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP). The first of these Performance Based Grant projects was commissioned in Rokota community in Niger State last weekend. Rokota – That three-syllable-word is the name of a farming community in Edati Local Government Area of Niger State known for its economic activities that include shea butter farming, palm fruit farming, and small trade. But for some reason, it has had to grapple with the dearth of electricity and other social amenities
On Saturday December 7, 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), facilitated the commissioning of a solar hybrid mini-grid power plant in Rokota community with funding from the World Bank
With this, Rokota became the first beneficiary of renewable off-grid electricity under NEP Mini-Grids component which targets provision of clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity to 300,000 homes and 30,000 local businesses in Nigeria. NEP is delivering, with the commissioning of the first mini-grid under the PBG of REA with support from the World Bank. The mini-grid, a 64 kilowatts (KW) solar hybrid with 360 kilowatt hour (KWH) of battery storage, is an indication that soon millions of Nigerians without access to electricity will be lifted out of darkness. The electrification is an innovative programme to catalyse off-grid development in Nigeria, through the provision of grant funding, detailed market data, and technical assistance with support from the World Bank ($350 million) and the African Development Bank ($200m). The NEP components are Solar Hybrid Mini Grids, Solar Home Systems (SHS) and the Energizing Education Programme (EEP).
With a distribution network of 10 kilometres across the community, the mini-grid is expected to supply constant electricity to 326 households, which will propel economic growth and improve small and medium scale business activities within the community. New business opportunities will also be possible with the availability of reliable electricity.
The Minister of State for Power, Mr. Goddy Jedy-Agba who was at the commissioning event on Saturday said, “I am honoured to be a part of this momentous achievement of the Rural Electrification Agency and the World Bank in collaboration with the Ministry of Power and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“The commissioning of the 157KW capacity solar hybrid mini-grid power plant will provide economic growth and stability to the people of Rokota. The Ministry of Power is providing the needed support for the implementation of all Federal Government policies in the diversification of the energy sector. I am, therefore, thrilled that our drive has led us to this great event. This is only the beginning of greater accomplishments,” Jedy-Agba noted.
The Minister of State stressed that the ministry will ensure that unserved and underserved communities continue to enjoy basic amenities such as stable power in Nigeria.
With a sense of accomplishment, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Electrification Agency, said the presence of the power sector leaders, the project financiers, private sector developers, community leaders and captains of industries at the commissioning lent credence to the great importance attached to powering communities in Nigeria through renewable energy solutions.
She said, “I am proud to say that in line with the Federal Government’s power sector roadmap, the Rural Electrification Agency has supervised and implemented mini-grid projects across multiple rural communities, educational institutions, hospitals, and businesses.”
There are great investment opportunities in the off-grid sector, she pointed out and that is why most of REA’s projects are
private sector-focused. Ogunbiyi explained further: “This is why we partnered PowerGen on this project here in Rokota, to deliver this 157KW solar mini-grid project that will power over 326 households and transform the lives of countless more.
“I must commend the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Ministry of Power on its mandate in enabling private companies, like PowerGen, to participate in this space – all for the sustainable development of Nigeria’s energy sector.”
World Bank’s Country Director in Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, in his goodwill message, explained that the World Bank is committed to reducing the consumption and use of fossil fuels in energy production through renewable energy investment.
“I am thrilled to be here with you all as we witness the commissioning of the first solar hybrid mini-grid project under the Performance-Based Grant component of the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP). This is a huge milestone that will set the pace for more impactful electrification projects under the World Bank-funded programme,” Chaudhuri said.
The World Bank has already approved $350m for off-grid electrification projects in Nigeria and beginning with Rokota, Nigerians have started benefiting from these projects, he noted.
The Practice Manager of Energy Climate Finance & Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP), Rohit Khanna, said Rokota project will improve the lives of the community and contribute to their economic development.
ESMAP as an alliance between the World Bank and 18 partners, is dedicated to advancing energy transition through sustainable power solutions to reduce energy poverty and boost economic and developmental growth, especially in rural communities.
“Our role at ESMAP is to shape the World Bank Group strategies and assist it in implementing programmes and policies that foster the use of renewable energy solutions for the conservation of the environment and climate,” said Khanna.
In his address, the World Bank’s Task Team Leader, Jon Exel, said mini-grids are progressively emerging as a major cost-effective and reliable approach to electrifying unserved and underserved communities across Africa, with huge potential in achieving the bank’s energy goals of universal energy access.
He said the World Bank is one of the largest financiers in the energy sector, earmarking $350m for the NEP.
Exel said: “Our goal is to decrease energy poverty and reduce carbon emissions by funding renewable energy solutions to power communities such as Rokota, tertiary universities and teaching hospitals under the Energizing Education Programme and foster the provision of Solar Home Systems to households and enterprises through access to clean, affordable and reliable energy.
” With about 30 jobs created during the construction phase and many more jobs to be created with businesses growing from the stable electricity, Exel noted that the project firmly supports small-scale job creation initiatives and will improve the quality of life of over 1000 people in Rokota community.
“REA stands as a model agency to partner with thanks to their dynamic team and institutional capacity and processes,” the World Bank Task Team Leader stated.
The Managing Director of PowerGen Renewable Energy Nigeria Limited, Mr. Alastair Smith, in his speech during the commissioning said, “We are happy and privileged to have brought this impactful project to the good people of Rokota Community.
“I am proud to say that the mini-grid, with a total installed capacity of 157kw and 360kwh of battery storage was delivered based on international best practice and standards,” Smith explained.
Rokota’s Village Head, Alhaji Adamu Mohammed, said the day the community had looked forward to finally arrive on December 7.
Mohammed said, “On behalf of the people of Rokota Community, we are grateful for this opportunity. I thank the Federal and State governments for selecting our community for this life-changing project. We are indeed very privileged.
“At Rokota, our children can study under the glow of clean electricity. As enterprising people blessed with kaolin, red clay, and iron ore resources, we look further to more commercial activities and small businesses growing Rokota’s economy. For instance, I hear that there are already thoughts around large scale shea butter production,” he revealed.
The health officer at Rokota Lwemp Health Clinic, Mr. Ndachukwu Ibrahim, said: “Before, we used to travel to about 10 kilometres for assistance. With this newly commissioned electricity, we have a small fridge now where we keep our pharmaceuticals. Now we have light to attend to our patients. With this, we are enjoying a new lease of life. We are grateful to the World Bank, REA, and Federal Government.
” Giving the vote of thanks, the Head of NEP Project Management Unit (PMU), Mrs. Adejoke Odumosu said the combined efforts of all those involved in the off-grid work have materialized into a laudable project.