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Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency plans renewable fund to deepen energy access

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Nigeria’s renewable energy space has been receiving focused attention from both the government and private players as the county’s national grid fails to provide electricity to millions of Nigerians living in rural areas.

In recent the recent Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan, the government set a target to deliver five million solar home systems (SHS) across the country. Most of these are to be supplied by local manufacturers and assemblers.

Leading government’s interventions in the renewable energy space, the Rural Electricity Agency (REA) has been deployed mini-grids to provide electricity for those who are far away from the national grid. The cost of extending the national grid beyond a certain are prohibitive.

“So we have mini-grids deployed for 200 or 300 households. We have performance-based grants agreements with the World Bank to incentivise private sector participation. Government alone cannot cover the gap,” Ahmad Salihijo, MD/CEO REA said at BusinessDay Energy Series 2020 on Wednesday.

The agency has also developed an innovative startup programme, under the rural electrification fund. To stimulate local innovations and innovative solutions to.

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Salihijo said the agency wants new private players to come in, in line with the executive order on local content. “This is a space that private sector developers should look out for as we roll out the renewable energy fund,” he said.

To sustain the renewable energy projects in rural communities, Salihijo says the agency establishes renewable electricity users cooperation society, in every community. It is a structured mechanism where community members play a key role in securing the deployment of systems, enlightening community members and ensuring payment of light bills.

This happens in partnership with Discos to help communities continue to own the space. This cuts across the capital projects that we implement on behalf of the federal government.

“With homegrown, data-driven innovations, we can deliver value to Nigerians. Data plays a key role in the work that we do. It enables us to target innovations and technologies appropriately to areas where they are viable and make a good business.”