THE REA EDGE’S CLOSER TO ENERGIZING RURAL AGRICULTURE IN OFF-GRID COMMUNITIES AS AGENCY HOLDS A 2-DAY BUSINESS MODELLING WORKSHOP ON ITS ENERGIZING AGRICULTURE PROGRAMME
In order to successfully carry out the activities outlined to implement the Energizing Agriculture Programme (EAP), the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the Global Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), organized a 2-day knowledge-driven, technical workshop on business modeling on February 14 and 15, 2023
The EAP is a three-year initiative aimed at stimulating the use of mini-grid electricity for agriculturally productive uses (i.e., those that drive local economic growth). The goal of the EAP is to dissolve the barriers separating electrification and agricultural development and to enable market-led solutions.
In line with the REA’s mandate as well as its current strategy thrust, the EAP is a special programme attracting a lot of interest both in the government as well as the private sector, targeted at closing the energy gap in the agriculture sector while strengthening productive use market in off-grid communities.
Armed with quality data across 70 viable clusters nationwide, the Workshop drew in professionals and key stakeholders in government, the development space, the private sector as well as the rural communities with a focus on refining the Programme’s business models, charting a course towards a smooth and impactful implementation of the Programme.
Speaking at the Workshop, Engr. Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad the MD/CEO of the REA explained that agricultural sector is predominantly rural and is the bedrock of off-grid communities across Nigeria, therefore it is only natural for the Agency to strengthen the sector using renewable energy, while ultimately impacting those communities. While emphasizing the importance of stakeholder engagement within the sector, the MD added that the REA continues to make data-driven decisions while leveraging on multi-sectorial collaboration to deliver efficiently on such programmes. He further tasked the EAP team to continue with a fast-paced implementation of the programme.
Also speaking at the Workshop, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, represented by the Director of Finance, Federal Ministry of Power, Mr. Tayo Adewunmi stated that the electrification of agricultural clusters is a very important factor in the nation’s economy.
He explained the need to address the issue of affordability and accessibility of electricity in the agricultural industry in Nigeria to create job opportunities, mitigate post-harvest losses and increase economic growth, he added that the EAP should aim to plug these gaps upon full implementation and encouraged the need for more private sector investment in renewable energy in rural areas
The Director, Renewables and Rural Access Department, Federal Ministry of Power, Engr. Abubakar Dapshima commended the REA and other development partners for the EAP initiative, advising the participants at the workshop to “come up with robust ideas that will ensure the sustainability of the programme and also store data on the project for future references”.
In line with REA’s openness to collaborative engagement with other government institutions, the EAP team worked extensively with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, leveraging on the FADAMA database. Representing the Ministry, Engr. A.G. Abubakar, the Director Federal Department of Agriculture, commended the REA and urged the EAP team to keep to a strict timeline for the project implementation just like other impactful REA projects.
The RMI Country Director, Suleiman Babamanu as well as the Programme Lead of the EAP, Mohammed Jibril reiterated the team’s readiness to deliver on the objectives of the Programme. While coordinating the iterative breakout sessions, the Programme Lead commended the participants for sufficiently exploring different touch points of the programme designs while laying out a pathway for smooth implementation of the EAP. The RMI Country Director, Suleiman Babamanu expressed delight on the quality of the knowledge-driven sessions while reassuring the REA of the RMI’s continuous support and partnership for the growth of the nation’s off-grid sector.