Innovating for Sustainable Impact in the Off-grid Sector: REA meets FCDO, InnovateUK in Lagos –
On Tuesday, the 22nd of November, 2022 the Rural Electrification Agency, led by Engr. Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, the MD/CEO of the Agency met with Sally Woolhouse, the new Head of Economic Development at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The meeting, which was held in Lagos was part of the Agency’s strategic collaboration with the global community, Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and other critical stakeholders in the energy ecosystem. As one of the key collaborators of the Rural Electrification Agency of Nigeria – REA, the UK Government continues to provide opportunities for technical support while facilitating growth in the off-grid space in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa. FCDO is one of the key UK institutions with which the REA has maintained a productive relationship.
While assuring the Agency of the continued support from the FCDO in the area of knowledge exchange, capacity and other strategic support targeted at technical and institutional development, Woolhouse and her team commended the REA for its role as an implementing Agency. She also referenced REA’s role as a key coordinator of diverse efforts and conversations by the myriad stakeholders working within the nation’s off-grid space.
Engr. Ahmad reemphasized the quality of support the Agency continues to receive from the UK government, explaining that “with the current institutional status of the REA, the Agency is better positioned for more strategic collaborations targeted at capacity development and real impact in the sector”.
He added that “the REA has evolved from being just an implementing Agency of the Federal Government to being a hub for impact-focused engagements and solution-driven collaborations within the ecosystem”.
The REA MD and his team equally engaged with 15 young change-makers in the energy sector whose companies are being supported by the UK Government through the InnovateUK, a programme launched in 2014. Through its Energy Catalyst Programme, InnovateUK has invested over 147 million Pounds in over 360 projects in 8 different rounds.
In an engaging, interactive session led by Alice Goodbrook, the Programme’s Innovation Lead as well as Engr. Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, the MD/CEO of REA, the 2022 Cohorts of the Energy Catalyst programme shared perspectives on the state-of-play of the clean energy sector, their focus areas, challenges as well as growth strategies.
Engr. Salihijo commended the young innovators for committing themselves towards addressing real problems in the off-grid sector while assuring them of the REA’s continuous support. He further emphasized the pivotal role of research and development in the sector, referencing the REA’s Research and Innovation Hub, activated in the year 2020 by the REA to improve research, innovation, technology demonstration and development in the renewable energy space.
The REA and InnovateUK have committed to collaborate further to draw in skills and resources targeted at proffering solutions to pressing problems in the off-grid space. Mutaqar Umar-Sadiq, the Head of the Energy Transition team in Nigeria urged the cohorts to focus their skills and resources on practical solutions that suit the Nigerian market and can be easily deployed.
Barbara Izilein, the Head of Federal Government’s Solar Power Naija (SPN) and a Special Adviser to the MD/CEO of the REA emphasized strategic collaborations and the need for sustainable financing for impactful solutions in the off-grid space.