Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has completed its provision of alternative clean and affordable power supply to another Nigerian market – Ariaria International Market in Aba – Abia State, under its Energising Economies Initiative (EEI).
Under the EEI, it had provided off grid electricity supply to markets which include Kano’s Sabon Gari; Lagos’s Iponri and Sura Shopping Complex, amongst others.
The 9.5 megawatts (MW) capacity off grid gas-fuelled power system built by a private consortium – Ariaria Market Energy Solutions Ltd (AMES), would supply electricity to up to 47,000 shops and small businesses operating at the market. It was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday.
Ariaria, reportedly supplies its renowned ‘made in Aba’ products to countries along the West Africa coasts and Central Africa. But like most business and economic clusters in Nigeria, it experienced inefficient electricity supply from the national grid, and had relied on exorbitant alternative power sources.
However, Buhari told traders in the market during the commissioning that his government considered their challenges with stable electricity supply and its impacts on their productivity and decided to facilitate the construction of the IPP by AMES.
The IPP has an extensive distribution network and metering systems for each shop, and will reportedly cut down the market’s carbon emission by about 85 per cent, as well as associated noise level by 50 per cent.
Claiming that past governments had looked the other way, and refused to create an enabling business environment for the traders in Ariaria, Buhari said his government took up the challenge to help them grow their productivity.
He said: “We have demonstrated that if the common good is our mission objective, it can be achieved irrespective of party differences and constitutional limitations.
“I like to say there is no political colour, I was elected to office on the convincing argument my party made about our commitment to security, developing the economy and fighting corruption.
“Some of the sound economic choices we made for Nigeria are self-sufficiency, self-reliance, national productivity, job creation, promoting made in Nigeria products and facilitating ease of doing business.”
According to him: “By providing a dedicated electricity supply to the traders and small businesses in this area, we are strengthening the made in Nigeria policy for which Abia and in particular, Aba and Ariaria are already well known.”
“Reliable power supply is critical to ease of doing business to ensure sustainability and improvement. I am told that before this intervention, traders in this market only got power for four hours a day and pay exorbitantly for it which constantly affect the viability of many businesses. This is the sad thing we inherited, and which we are replacing with this power supply which is cleaner and better.
“Those who turned their backs on this problem still have the courage to campaign about unemployment and poverty, nothing they say can change what we have done here to provide leap where they perpetrated neglect. What is happening in Ariaria today by way of clean, independent and reliable power to market and small businesses is happening in Kano, Lagos and Ibadan. Jobs are also being created through the initiative.”
In her remarks, the Managing Director of the REA, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, provided an overview of the project under the EEI.
She noted the EEI would support rapid deployment of off grid electricity solutions to provide clean, safe, affordable and reliable electricity to economic and business clusters like markets; shopping centres; and industrial zones across Nigeria through private sector developers.
According to her, Ariaria has 11 sections and over 37,000 shops with trading activities ranging from clothing and shoes production; printing; and fabrication of tools and mechanical parts.
Ogunbiyi, explained that out of the 37,000 shops in the market, the first 4000 shops have been connected to the system by AMES, with the remaining 33,000 shops expected to be powered within the year.