Nigeria’s solar mini-grid ambition gains momentum in 2021

… Enrolled 60,955 in 10 years

Faced with a population boom that has sent carbon emissions soaring and stretched power supplies to breaking point, oil-rich Nigeria is turning to renewable energy with a series of investments aimed at developing its mini-grid capacity.

The Nigerian mini-grid market is expected to generate growing interest from developers in 2021 not just because of the size of its growth opportunities but because of its robust regulatory environment.

“The mini-grid development sector is more crowded in Nigeria than elsewhere, reflecting the fact that the market has significant potential to provide electricity access and displace existing diesel generators,” according to the State of the Global Mini-grids Market Report published by BloombergNEF and Sustainable Energy for All (SEFORALL).

Most firms are already putting in place strategy to leverage such opportunities in 2021. For instance, the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) signed mini-grid development agreements with two developers on February 3 for the electrification of five communities.

The development is a milestone towards energising over five million Nigerians with clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity through mini-grid by 2021.

According to a statement from REA, “this process serves a critical milestone towards the deployment of energy infrastructure in Makami community, Kaduna State; Obadore community, Ondo State; Ode-omi community, Ogun State; Ajegunle community and Sule Abapanu and Bondo Clusters in Edo State.”

The developers, Acoblimited and Solar Philippines signed the agreement under the PerformanceBased Grant (PBG) mini-grid component of the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) funded by the World Bank and African Development Bank.

Also in February 2021, Renew via Energy Corporation and Powergen Renewable Energy received PBG from REA for the electrification of several localities in the northern part of Nigeria.

The PBG will enhance the electrification of the villages of Dacitagi, Dukugi, Sa’achi Nku, Ebangi, Sosa, Gbade, Kpange, Jikanegi and Lagun in Niger State.

“The signing of the PBG agreement enables NEP, the Nigerian government, REA and the World Bank to take another step towards the electrification of Nigeria,” REA said in a statement.

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The NEP is a Federal Government initiative that is private sector-driven. This initiative seeks to provide electricity access to households, micro, small and medium enterprises in off-grid communities across the country through renewable power sources.

The PBG program aims to close the viability gap for mini-grids developed on a spontaneous basis. Grants of $350/connection are available on a first-come-first-serve basis, with a minimum total grant request of $10,000 per mini-grid.

However, eligible projects are solar hybrid systems in unserved areas, and the applications for the performance-based grants will be accepted on a rolling basis, once the program is active and until available funds are exhausted.

For most stakeholders, projects like this are very important as it is virtually impossible for the national grid to cover every geographical point within Nigeria.

Nigeria, seen as the largest potential market for mini-grid in West Africa, has received at least $374 million in the past ten years from international donors for mini-grid development.

Africa’s largest economy has small-grid capacity of 2.8 megawatts as of 2019, with 52 of the 59 projects solar-powered, according to Bloombergnef. Only 55percent of the nation’s population is connected to the national electricity grid and those experience frequent power cuts of up to 15 hours per day.

Determined to radically improve the quality of teaching and learning in Nigerian public primary schools by addressing the challenge of galloping outof-school children figure in Africa largest economy, an independent charity, Oando foundation said it enrolled 60,955 out-of-school children (OOSC) with a cumulative retention rate of 77 percent in the last 10 years.

Adekanla Adegoke, head, Oando Foundation, who gave the update while commenting on the landmark 10th anniversary of the foundation said improving the quality of basic education in Nigeria requires a multifaceted approach focused on whole school development, deploying an ongoing engagement with adopted schools for several years, rather than a one-off donation experience.

According to her, this approach has led to our successful adoption of 88 schools across the nation, building and renovating 249 classrooms and Early Childcare Centers, enrolling 60,955 out-of-school children (OOSC) with a cumulative retention rate of 77 percent, the establishment of 39 ICT centers, upskilling 2,832 teachers and 210 head teachers via our teacher training programme, empowering local communities to support school improvement processes, to name a few.

“The sustainability of Oando Foundation’s AdoptA-school model is hinged on effective community engagement and stakeholder partnerships both locally and internationally”

In addition, as an organisation we have evolved, rising to the challenge where cynics abound, exercising faith in the possibility of a transformed public education system; working and collaborating intentionally to see this become a reality”, she said.

While commenting on the future plans of the Foundation, Adegoke said synergy among all stakeholders, government, private sector and civil society is critical for mutual accountability, optimising economies of scale, and avoiding duplication of efforts across all levels.

“Oando Foundation remains committed to strategically engaging government on emerging opportunities for large-scale impact, accelerating digital learning opportunities in our schools, deepening direct programme interventions, strengthening partnerships and advocacy efforts, and scaling existing initiatives for more impact”, she said.

Commenting on the milestone celebration, Adeyemi Adeyemi, Implementing Partner, said, The Foundation continued to provide capacity building for teachers to improve their teaching skills, enable community members demand accountability as well as support school improvement programmes.

Modupe Olateju, managing director, The Education Partnership (TEP) said the Foundation’s excellent work in education is felt by thousands of teachers and learners they are supporting across Nigeria.

Xiaou Shubata, from Sumitomo Chemical, Tokyo Japan said, through the partnership with the foundation centres for computer education are built to provide children in Nigeria with much-needed ICT skills and knowledge.

“Our latest project – Clean Our World – is geared towards helping children in Lagos learn about environmental issues and utilize plastic waste for recycling to make their neighborhoods cleaner and safer”, Shubata said.

As businesses manage the effects of Covid-19, Nigeria’s advertising industry that equally received knocks from the pandemic has put plans together to weather the storm for the operators.

Under its umbrella body, Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, AAAN, the industry is in the process of engaging and registering with Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, a government agency with intention to handle government communication jobs at various levels.

In the past, political parties and government have patronized foreign creative and PR agencies for their communication to the citizens, a development bodies like AAAN see as capital flight which is not helpful to Nigerian economy and employment.

“We are lobbying the government to give the Nigerian marketing communication industry priority for its communication to the citizens” on the understanding that the industry will employ more people and assist to reduce the unemployment presently standing at over 27%, AAAN President, Steve Babaeko said recently during a webinar meeting with some journalists. The association is also sensitizing companies for discussions and idea sharing on how to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the agencies and the clients.

Expectedly, top on the agenda for discussion with companies when the meeting is eventually structured is perhaps the delay in payment for jobs executed. Some companies have, for reasons of poor cash flow, occasioned by harsh economy, extended period of payment from 60 days to 120 days and beyond in some instances which Babaeko said is not helpful to his members’ business.

“We need to harmonise the views of clients and AAAN and come up with a mutual document that will guide us. We want to work with Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON to document agreements with clients”, he said.

Citing the bill in the National Assembly on APCON reform which is on second reading, Babaeko said the industry is expecting a highly focused law that will help his members to practice without too much encumbrance. “These are the key points we are pushing in 2021”, he said.

Speaking on the impact of Covid-19 on the industry, Babaeko who is conducting a research to determine the value of the industry, employment level and the effect of Covid-19 on the industry, said a lot of things that happened last year affected the advertising industry. Nigeria’s economy was affected by Covid-19, leading to lockdown; followed by ENDSARS protest and recession which Nigeria slipped into in Q4, 2020.

According to Babaeko, the client took a major knock and what affects the clients will have a spill-over effect on the advertising industry. Due to the difficult environment, some clients closed shop, others had their distribution network disrupted while many others either cut their marketing communication budgets or cancelled marketing contracts.

“Our industry struggled last year but as optimist, I believe there will be a turn-around in 2021”. He based his optimism on the recovery of the economy as businesses will likely bounce back devoid of lockdowns so far the citizens comply with Covid-19 protocols, he said.

“If there is no lockdown, then business activities can go on and clients will have opportunity to grow brands and agents will benefit. Again we are hopeful that the Vaccines will come in to tackle the pandemic”, Babaeko said.

He described the pandemic as an opportunity for his members to be more creative and much more aggressive in delivering in clients business as he wished to see the African Free Trade Agreement become operational to easily enable his members to operate within African region and export capital.

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