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How Are State Governments Contributing to Electricity Access?

Power proves to be an important driver of socio-economic development, as seen in most countries worldwide. In Nigeria, access to power, although limited, has enabled the growth of small-scale manufacturing (cottage) industries and the existence of security, healthcare, and other infrastructure.

When harnessed productively in agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, commercial services and education, power can tackle state problems such as poverty, insecurity, and unproductivity. As the various states are saddled with mostly small-scale infrastructural and social development responsibilities, it is pertinent to examine actions that the state governments can take to improve electricity access.

Roles State Governments can play to enhance electricity provision for their communities.
Although the bulk of plans and efforts for rural electrification are domiciled under the purview of the Federal Government (FG), State Governments can generate and supply power for their use (or to her citizens) under the captive/embedded power and Independent Electricity Distribution Network (IEDN) regulatory provisions. However, many states have not been able to leverage the regulations as several states continue to depend on FG interventions.

States can embark on rural electrification projects and fund asset purchases to assist the power supply and distribution companies in extending electricity supply to the people. Apart from direct physical projects, State Governments can provide increased electricity through leadership, enabling partnerships, legislation, capacity building and education, and targeted subsidies.

Leadership and Policy Implementation
State governments should identify their roles and responsibilities in the development and execution of electricity access plans such as the Rural Electrification and Strategy Implementation Plan (RESIP), Sustainable Energy For All Action Agenda (SE4ALL), Nigerian Electricity Grid Maintenance, Expansion and Rehabilitation Programme (NEGMERP), the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan amongst others. State governments can provide leadership by coordinating actors and influencers in the sector and proper communications with stakeholders, including citizens.

Another way is to nominate ambassadors and champions within the different arms of the state government to drive the implementation of policy goals on rural electrification projects at local governments. Through the Ministry of Local Government Affairs, consumer representatives, and REA’s Electricity Users Cooperative Society (EUCS), the state government can continuously engage community leaders to empower and encourage citizens to own and sustain electrification initiatives.

Partnerships
Through the Bureau of Public-Private Partnerships, state governments can encourage private sector participation and support local businesses. For example, Kaduna and Lagos states have made progress with electrification projects through partnerships with private sector businesses, development organisations and donor agencies. In another instance, Ekiti state recently signed an agreement with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for a 50,000 affordable housing units project, costing $2billion. The housing units would feature renewable energy and sustainable solutions through the services of local human resources.
State governments can also collaborate with businesses with the technical capacity to develop accurate plans backed by data.

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Legislation
The executive arm of the State Governments can implement and enforce existing policies through relevant ministries, departments, and agencies, including the state rural electrification boards and other relevant local offices. The legislative arm can create frameworks for tracking electricity projects, as data availability proves to be an excellent resource for planning and investments. For instance, the executive can implement related activities when a policy or act is domesticated in the State. At the same time, the state house of assembly can create committees to monitor and evaluate projects.

Capacity building and education
The State Government should continually train the workforce to complete projects through institutions such as the Ministry of Education, National Directorate of Employment, Ministry of Science and Technology, National Power Training Institute of Nigeria, and the National Board for Technical Education. Utilising existing training institutions in the State that teach courses related to the implementation of electricity projects is one way to achieve this. Another way is to tap into digital technology. For instance, knowing the benefits of access to reliable internet infrastructure, the Ekiti State Government is developing its Knowledge Economy by establishing projects that would expand broadband connectivity within the State, which would enable access for state officials and citizens.

Government subsidies
Since most states generate internal revenue through taxation, which inversely affects electricity access supporting businesses, state governments can provide tax exemptions on certain equipment utilised in the infrastructural projects. They can also partner with experts on generating internal revenue and investments to execute more projects.
Past and Current Efforts of State Governments in Providing Electricity
Apart from the FG’s electrification efforts through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), a few states make efforts through the state electricity boards to provide reliable power to the local communities.

Ekiti State: In 2015, the previous administration of Ekiti state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Elemi Energy to develop a 1.15 MW solar farm, with an estimated project cost of N500million.

Imo State: The Imo State Power and Rural Electrification (Amendment) Bill was passed in 2019, and the state government established the Imo State Power and Rural Electrification Agency (IPORE-A). IPORE-A’s mandates include exploring energy sources in the State, eliminating the obstacles to stable electricity supply, and initiatives such as the Operation Light Up Imo initiative. Also, the agency is working with the Transmission Company of Nigeria and the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to refurbish local transmission and distribution networks. It also supported REA in the supply and installation of transformers and intends to partner with the REA to deploy off-grid solutions.

Kaduna State: Kaduna State has developed a Power Sector Implementation Plan and a Power Sector Infrastructure Policy. The Implementation Plan targets 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power generation through off-grid renewable energy solutions to expand rural electrification under the Kaduna Power Supply Company (KAPSCO). KAPSCO has enabled mini-grids and stand-alone solar home systems that have served public facilities in remote communities. In the past, Kaduna State has partnered with the Federal Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) through the Solar Nigeria programme on rural electrification.

Lagos State: The Lagos State government has made efforts to provide electricity to its communities in the past. The State commissioned four power plants and a transformer factory through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Lagos State Electricity Board.
A notable effort is the Lagos Solar project which currently provides electricity to 172 public boarding secondary schools and 11 Public Health Centres (PHCs). The project intends to deliver 5MW of sustainable solar power to public secondary schools in rural communities.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources engaged with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Power Africa programme to develop a plan to distribute 110 solar home systems to households in the most vulnerable communities in Lagos. With continued engagement, they are developing an Integrated Resource Plan which would serve as a roadmap to guide the development and implementation of an electrification strategy for Lagos.

To increase the supply of meters that would match the demand within the State, the state government executed the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon, which encouraged the engagement of home-grown/local talents to innovate and develop smart electricity meters. It also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to engage the UK Federal Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to improve policy and regulatory framework on off-grid solar and build the capacity of solar energy institutions to boost investments in the State.

The State has signed a Streetlight Infrastructural Agreement with LEDCO to replace streetlights in the State with Smart Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting under the Streetlight Retrofit Project – reducing the operations and maintenance costs of streetlight infrastructure.
The state government recently signed an agreement with UNOPS to develop a 50,000 affordable housing units project, costing $2billion. The housing units would feature renewable energy and sustainable solutions through the services of local human resources.

Conclusion
While the federal government takes some responsibility for infrastructural development regarding electricity access, there are several problem-solving roles the state governments can play through its institutions and thereby make progress with readily available resources. The potential economic growth associated with access to electricity in inner communities is immense, and the contributory efforts of the state governments can enable this collective goal. State Governments can ensure that policies are domesticated, the right experts and collaborators are identified, internal revenue is being generated, and innovative ways to manage available resources are applied.

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