The new board of Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA) will seek to complete at least 27 solar independent power plants (IPPs) spread across the country, the country’s power minister, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has disclosed.
Fashola said this when he recently inaugurated the new board of REA in Abuja. He however noted that there are about 37 solar IPPs the government planned to build in federal universities and seven teaching hospitals from which communities around them would be connected to electricity.
Indicating that the major focus of the REA would be on off grid solar power, and small hydro dams, the minister said the government had come to appreciate the burgeoning place of solar power in the mainstream electricity discuss. He averred Nigeria would make the most of solar power to push economic development to her rural areas.
“The anchors for implementing rural access are: completion of over 2000 grid extension projects that started life as constituency projects since 1999 but have now either been abandoned or uncompleted; resuscitation of 6 small hydro dams and activation of their power component, which have received Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval, have been advertised, and we have received Expressions of Interest which we are evaluating; development of Independent Power Plants in 37 federal universities and seven teaching hospitals in rural areas and the building of independent power grids from there to connect adjoining rural and unconnected communities,” said Fashola.
According to him: “Most of these IPPs, at least 27, will be solar powered and this is the heart of the matter.”
Buttressing the government’s commitment to solar power and leveraging the REA framework for this, Fashola said: “This is because President Buhari understands the increasing emergence of renewable energy sources, like solar power from the fringes of the energy debate to the mainstream.”
“This is why he was one of the first leaders to append his signature on behalf of Nigeria to the Paris agreement.
“Most importantly, he understands the appeal of renewables generally and solar in particular to the global youth population and Nigeria’s youth.
“He understands how impactful a small solar plant can be to a barber, hairdresser, small food processing plant and small businesses generally where our youth are participating in making their contribution to our national development,” the minister noted.
The REA has a tainted history of poor project management, dishonest financial management, and steamy political interference. Industry experts however expect the new executives led by Damilola Ogunbiyi, a presidential adviser on power to Buhari, to come good and clean with the government’s mandate to it.