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How REA is increasing electricity access to underserved Nigerians through NEP

Issues relating to access to electricity have become one of the most important issues confronting the world today as concerns are raised on how to provide sufficient energy to meet the requirements of a growing world with rising living standards, according to the World Bank.

For instance, West Africa has one of the lowest rates of electricity access in the world with only about 42% of the total population and 8% of rural residents, having access to electricity, yet only three countries are on track to provide access to electricity by 2030.

“At this slow pace, 263 million people in the region will be left without electricity in ten years,” the World Bank said in its ‘Putting Africa on the path to universal electricity access’ report.

Similarly, the 2022 Energy Progress Report released by Tracking SDG 7 states that Nigeria has the lowest access to electricity globally, with about 92 million persons lacking access to power which is stifling the country’s industrial growth and causing other problems.

The World Bank noted that tackling Africa’s energy access crisis requires significant efforts, one of which is that West and Central African countries need to look beyond their borders and further integrate their national utilities and grids to other systems in the region.

However, the Nigeria Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has stepped in to increase electricity access to unserved and underserved Nigerians, with the implementation of Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP).

The NEP, funded through a $550 million loan facility from the World Bank and African Development Bank is targeted at providing off-grid reliable and clean electricity supply to 705,000 households, 90,000 small and medium enterprises, 100 Isolation and treatment centers and 400 Primary healthcare centers in unserved and underserved areas of Nigeria.

Access to constant power supply in educational institutions and healthcare facilities in Nigeria has been identified as a major challenge as well as a barrier to effective learning, institutional operations, student residency and access to quality healthcare

It also targets the provision of captive solar hybrid power plants to 15 federal tertiary institutions and two teaching hospitals.

According to Ahmad-Salihijo Ahmad, the managing director of REA, the agency has completed the installation of 67 mini-grids with 995,396 solar home systems deployed and over million households electrified across Nigeria.

Ahmad explained that the $550million financing from both the World Bank ($350million) and the African Development Bank ($200million) for the implementation of the project aligned with the rural electrification strategy and implementation plan and the power sector recovery plan.

“The Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) is an initiative of the Federal Government implemented by the REA to accelerate the off-grid renewable energy private sector market and bridge the overall energy access deficit.

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“The NEP aims to provide electricity to households, small businesses, educational and healthcare facilities in unserved and underserved rural communities through the deployment of solar hybrid mini grids, Solar Home Systems (SHS), captive hybrid power plants and energy efficient productive use equipment/appliances,” he said.

He further said, of out of over $392 million commitment received so far, $64.8 million has been disbursed to private sector partners for the execution of the projects.

unserved and underserved Nigerians. How it goes about doing this depends on where the funding comes from.

“According to the rural electrification strategy plan, we have targets to reach Nigerians everywhere in the country and the numbers at the moment, are being quoted to be as high as 80 million people,” Ahmad said.

“To achieve this, a lot of funding is required and what we are used to doing is that every year we wait and get government’s money from the budget, go to the site and then implement the projects.

“However, if you are to do this for the next 100 years, you will not be able to meet those targets hence it became important for the agency to ensure that its mandate does not end at implementation,” he said.

Speaking on the project, Anita Otubu, the head, project management unit of NEP said the World Bank’s $350m is being implemented through five components, including Solar Hybrid Mini Grid, Standalone Solar Home Systems (SHS), Energizing Education Program Phase II (EEP II) and Technical Assistance.

Otubu said the AfDB’s $200m is being implemented through the Solar Hybrid Mini Grid, Energy Efficient Productive Use Equipment (PUE), Energizing Education Program Phase III (EEP III) and Technical Assistance components.

The Solar Hybrid Mini grids component with a budget of $213 million, is being implemented under the World Bank and AfDB fund, aims to support the development of private sector mini grids in underserved and unserved areas that have high economic growth potential.

The Standalone Solar Home Systems (SHS) component of the World Bank fund aims to help millions of Nigerian households and MSMEs to access better energy services at an affordable cost, via stand-alone solar systems through the private sector, valued at $75 million.

Energizing Education Program Phase II (EEP II) valued at $250 million is being funded by both World Bank and AfDB provides access to constant power supply in educational institutions and healthcare facilities in Nigeria, which has been identified as a major challenge.

The Technical Assistance component is valued at $37 million and it aims to provide technical assistance for a wide range of public and private sector stakeholders in the country’s off-grid sector.

The provision of technical assistance will support project implementation and broad capacity building in the Federal Ministry of Power and the Rural Electrification Agency. It will also finance project implementation as well as help build a framework for rural electrification.

According to Otubu, “Since its effectiveness in 2019, the NEP has been managed by the Project Management Unit (PMU) which comprises consultants with expertise in various technical fields, seconded staff from the REA, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, as well as a team of support staff.

“For a transparent and methodical implementation of projects under the NEP, the PMU also engages a robust monitoring, evaluation, learning and due diligence framework which involves the engagement of a web based M&E platform, Independent Verification Agent, Grant Administrator, Project Owners Engineer and Legal Support.”

She added that: “At the moment, we have about 249,193 tons of emissions saved as a result of the project. We have a total of 52 megawatts of PV capacity deployed as a result of work on these products we have mentioned.

“Access to constant power supply in educational institutions and healthcare facilities in Nigeria has been identified as a major challenge as well as a barrier to effective learning, institutional operations, student residency and access to quality healthcare.

“Considering the role of arguably the most important sectors in driving socio-economic development in Nigeria (i.e. Education and Health), the Federal Ministry of Power through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), resolved to embark on viable projects to ensure the availability of reliable, sustainable and affordable power to Federal Universities and University Teaching Hospitals across the country.

“In view of the foregoing, the ‘Energizing Education Programme’ (EEP), an Initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), was approved by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2016, with an aim to provide reliable, affordable and sustainable power to thirty-seven (37) Federal Universities and seven (7) Teaching Hospitals within Nigeria.”

The EEP Phase II will see the implementation of this initiative in seven Federal Universities and two University Teaching Hospitals, across the six geopolitical zones. The benefiting institutions include; Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in Ogun state and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia state.

Others are; University of Calabar/ Teaching Hospital in Cross River state, University of Maiduguri/Teaching Hospital in Borno state, University of Abuja in the FCT, Federal University Gashua in Yobe state and the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna.