CEO of PaySolar247™, Syndey Akinmoladun, is also the convener of the upcoming Solarex Conference in Lagos Nigeria. He spoke to OGN on the summit’s objectives, and posited that Nigeria’s campaign for clean energy and desire to end energy poverty should be driven by her young people and women who are most impacted by the issues. Excerpts.
The inaugural edition of Solarex comes quite apt – it is happening when Nigeria’s RE market looks to be taking off, energy poverty is still high, and commitments to RE to minimise this are looking strong, what really are the intentions of this conference?
Interestingly, the theme of the conference, “Shaping the Future of Solar and Renewable Energy in Nigeria”, clearly conveys the entire conference objectives.
But, you’ve a sub theme: “Engage, Empower, Expand”, what do they mean or represent?
The conference objectives are summed up in these three E’s which are Engage, Empower, and Expand. We will engage stakeholders across the RE space in productive and sustainable debates, especially youths, women and communities; we will empower individuals and communities through knowledge sharing, capacity building initiatives and training programs and by these, ultimately expand the frontiers of RE in Nigeria, bridge the energy gap, build local capacity, inspire entrepreneurship, eradicate energy poverty and promote sustainable development in line with the UN SDG7.
Nigeria is quite notorious for conferences and workshops, but hardly applies the outcomes of these roundtables, how’s the Solarex structured to be different?
You may want to know that Solarex Nigeria is powered by the Renewable Energy Advocacy Project (REAP), an initiative of PaySolar247™. The focus and target for us at REAP remains the youths, women and communities who are at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) in terms of access to clean and reliable electricity that will engender education, enterprise and economic sustainability in our communities and at large the entire nation. Contrary to the norm, we are adopting a different approach and that means we are taking the message directly to those who are expressly involved in the RE value chain.
Globally, clean energy is beginning to be linked to the youths or young people, shouldn’t Nigeria consider this, the Solarex conference seems to have taken this into play?
Simply looking at the lineup of speakers for the conference, you would agree with me that it boasts of a good number of young and prominent Nigerians who are making remarkable impact in their chosen professions and endeavors. That in itself gives you a clear picture of the direction in which we are towing.
In specifics, who is the conference targeted at, who are you looking to influence?
In time past, youths have always been described as the engine room for economic and sustainable growth in any society, and a good number of Nigeria’s active population are youths. Take for example, if you attend a lot of RE and environment related events, you’ll scarcely find few young people seated in the audience. We are looking out for undergraduates, graduates, aspiring entrepreneurs, female business owners, RE enthusiasts, business development service providers, etc. So, youths and young people are and will always remain the target and focus of influence for us at Solarex Nigeria.
The last time you granted us audience, the mini grid regulation from the regulator – NERC, wasn’t out, now it is, what in your view does this mean to operators and the market?
The NERC mini grid regulation for me is the game changer. It presents a level playing field for all stakeholders in the industry. The attendant issues of tariff and uncertainties in Discos’ rollout plan, that seemed to scare away investors and developers have to a large extent, now been taken care of by the mini grid regulation; and that means the future of RE in Nigeria and of course Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) is achievable and attainable. The other related issue that has to be addressed is that of access to finance for project developers.
In general, what are your expectations from the Solarex conference, how far reaching are you expecting the outcomes and conversations from it to go?
Part of the lineup of activities at the conference, will be the induction and inauguration of Solar Ambassadors of Nigeria (SAN), geared towards raising a renaissance of young renewable energy enthusiasts, who will carry and champion the message of the benefits and advantages of solar and renewable energy in their communities, cities and states.
There’ll also be practical hands-on training and access to mentorship and online resources that will promote the need for clean and reliable electricity that will engender education, enterprise and economic stability.
Participants will discover how they can secure equipments, investments and financing for renewable energy projects, thus raising young aspiring green energy entrepreneurs, sparking off industrialist mindset amongst youths in Nigeria.
We expect the outcomes and conversations from the conference to also form a policy direction document for government and stakeholders in the renewable energy sector.