• Monday, July 15, 2024
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How FG-World Bank partnership lit up Rokota community with off-grid power

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Energy access for rural dwellers in Nigeria has been limited and in most cases non-existent. This is often because the national grid does not cover such areas. Stephen Onyekwelu writes that the Federal Government-World Bank mini off-grid electrification will reverse this trend as the first of such project gets commissioned in Rokota, Niger State under the Performance-Based Grant scheme.

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-R: Rokota Lwemp Health Clinic Health Officer, Ndachukwu Ibrahim (Left) explaining what the new newly commissioned electricity project means for the health centre to GoddyJedy-Agba, minister of state for health, while DamilolaOgunbiyi, MD/CEO, Rural Electrification Agency, watches in admiration

 

Rokota is a farming community in Edati Local Government Area of Niger State known for Shea butter and palm fruit farming, and small trade. How limited and in some cases no access to electricity has slowed the progress of both farmers and traders in the community, depriving them of basic social facilities.

To help spur economic development in places such as Rokota around the world, the World Bank has initiated renewable energy projects to drive increased access to electricity in order to attain universal access to electricity in underserved and un-served regions.

On December 7, 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), facilitated the commissioning of a solar hybrid mini-grid power plant in the community. Rokota is the first beneficiary of renewable energy off-grid electricity under the Nigeria Electrification Project Mini-Grids.

The mini-grids project aims to provide clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity to 300, 000 homes and 30, 000 local businesses in Nigeria. The Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) has turned a new leaf with the commissioning of the first mini-grid under the performance-based grant of the Rural Electrification Agency in collaboration with the World Bank.

A 64 kilowatts (kW) solar hybrid, and 360kWh of battery storage, renews hope that millions of Nigerians without access to electricity can be lifted out of the darkness.

 

The electrification is an innovative programme to catalyse off-grid development in Nigeria, through the provision of grant funding, detailed market data, and technical assistance, in collaboration with the World Bank ($350m) and African Development Bank ($200m). The NEP components are Solar Hybrid Mini Grids, Solar Home Systems (SHS) and the Energising Education Programme (EEP).

 

With a distribution network of 10kilometres across the community, the mini-grid is expected to supply constant electricity to 326 households, which will propel economic growth and improve small and medium scale business activities within the community. New business opportunities will also be possible with the availability of reliable electricity.

 

“I am honoured to be a part of this momentous achievement of the Rural Electrification Agency and the World Bank in collaboration with the Ministry of Power and the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Goddy Jedy-Agba, minister of state for power said at the commissioning.

“The commissioning of the 157KW capacity solar hybrid mini-grid power plant will provide economic growth and stability to the people of Rokota,” Jedy-Agba said.

According to Jedy-Agba, no stone will be left unturned in ensuring that un-served and underserved communities continue to enjoy basic amenities such as stable power in Nigeria.

Damilola Ogunbiyi, managing director and chief executive officer of the Rural Electrification Agency, pointed out that the presence of the power sector leaders, the project financiers, private sector developers, community leaders and captains of industries at the commissioning lent credence to the great importance attached to powering communities in Nigeria through renewable energy solutions.

“I am proud to say that in line with the Federal Government’s power sector roadmap, the Rural Electrification Agency has supervised and implemented mini-grid projects across multiple rural communities, educational institutions, hospitals, and businesses.”

There are great investment opportunities in the off-grid sector, she pointed out and that is why most of REA’s projects are private sector-focused. Ogunbiyi explained that “this is why we partnered PowerGen on this project here in Rokota, to deliver this 157kW solar mini-grid project that will power over 326 households and transform the lives of countless more.”

Shubham Chaudhuri, the World Bank’s country director in Nigeria, in his goodwill message, explained that the World Bank is committed to reducing the consumption and use of fossil fuels in energy production through renewable energy investment.

“I am thrilled to be here with you all as we witness the commissioning of the first solar hybrid mini-grid project under the Performance-Based Grant component of the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP). This is a huge milestone that will set the pace for more impactful electrification projects under the World Bank-funded programme.”

The World Bank has already approved $350 million for off-grid electrification projects in Nigeria and beginning with Rokota, Nigerians have started benefiting from these projects.

Chaudhuri said the World Bank committed to eliminating extreme hunger which will make life better. “With a project like this, the statistics of about 600 million that have no access to electricity will be a thing of the past.”

Similarly, Rohit Khanna, practice manager of Energy Climate Finance & Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP), admitted that the electrification project in Rokota is a significant event that will improve the lives of the community and contribute to their economic development.

ESMAP, an alliance between the World Bank and 18 partners, is dedicated to advancing energy transition through sustainable power solutions to reduce energy poverty and boost economic and developmental growth, especially in rural communities.

 

“Our role at ESMAP is to shape the World Bank Group strategies and assist it in implementing programmes and policies that foster the use of renewable energy solutions for the conservation of the environment and climate,” said Khanna.

In an address, the World Bank’s Task Team Leader, Jon Exel, explained that mini-grids are progressively emerging as a major cost-effective and reliable approach to electrifying unserved and underserved communities across Africa, with huge potential in achieving the bank’s energy goals of universal energy access.

According to him, the World Bank is currently, one of the largest financiers in the energy sector, earmarking a total of $350 million for the NEP.

“Our goal,” said Exel, “is to decrease energy poverty and reduce carbon emissions by funding renewable energy solutions to power communities such as Rokota, tertiary universities and teaching hospitals under the Energising Education Programme and foster the provision of Solar Home Systems to households and enterprises through access to clean, affordable and reliable energy.”

With about 30 jobs created during the construction phase and many more jobs to be created with businesses growing from the stable electricity, Exel pointed out that the project firmly supports small scale job creation initiatives and, as a result, improve the quality of life of over 1000 people here in Rokota community and beyond.

“REA stands as a model agency to partner with thanks to their dynamic team and institutional capacity and processes,” the World Bank Task Team Leader stated.

Alastair Smith, managing director of PowerGen Renewable Energy Nigeria Limited in his speech during the commissioning said: “we are happy and privileged to have brought this impactful project to the good people of Rokota Community.”

Smith said thanks to the Nigeria Electrification Project, under the Performance-Based Grant “we have been able to deliver this the solar hybrid mini-grid power plant in record time. I am proud to say that the mini-grid, with a total installed capacity of 157kW and 360kWh of battery storage was delivered based on international best practice and standards.”

Rokota’s Village head, Alhaji Adamu Mohammed, in his  ssaid: “This is a major event and on behalf of the people of Rokota Community, we are grateful for this opportunity.”

“At Rokota, our children can study under the glow of clean electricity. As enterprising people blessed with kaolin, red clay, and iron ore resources, we look further to more commercial activities and small businesses growing Rokota’s economy.”

The health officer at Rokota Lwemp Health Clinic, Ndachukwu Ibrahim, said “This is a milestone in the history of this community. Before, we used to travel to about 10 kilometres for assistance. With this newly commissioned electricity, we have a small fridge now where we keep our medical pharmaceuticals. Now we have light to attend to our patients. With this, we are enjoying a new lease of life. We are grateful to the World Bank, REA, and Federal Government.”

Adejoke Odumosu, the head of NEP PMU, noted that the combined efforts of all those involved in the off-grid work have materialised into a laudable project being commissioned. Odumosu also that the project would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of the Federal Government, the World Bank, the Rural Electrification Agency, the private sector developers and the people of Rokota.

Ibrahim Panti, representative of Niger State Governor and Commissioner for Works and infrastructural expressed gratitude to the Federal government and the World Bank for this laudable project in their community