1600 abandoned power projects keep Nigeria’s rural folks in darkness

*identified projects need $205m for completion

Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has detected 1600 electrification projects it said were abandoned by project contractors at different rural communities in Nigeria for more than five years now.

REA said the projects were not completed because they were not adequately funded, or poorly planned. It also explained that even if some of them were completed, they may still not provide electricity to beneficiary communities because they had no reliable power supply sources.

Before now, Nigeria’s REA was notorious for awarding questionable rural electrification projects under a parliamentary window called constituency projects. Projects awarded in this window were often influenced to compensate politicians and their associates.

However, in the Rural Electrification Strategy Implementation Plan (RESIP) of the REA which OGN recently obtained in Abuja, about 1600 of such projects have been left uncompleted with the government indicating its anxiety over the practice and amount of money needed to complete those that are economically viable.

The RESIP said about $205 million would be required by the REA to conclude the abandoned projects, adding that a smart approach to their completion would be adopted.

“The FGN is concerned over the several on-going rural electrification project spread across the country some of which have been abandoned by contractors for more than 5 years. These projects numbering about 1,600 as at 2012, could be found in all the states of the federation, and it was estimated that close to N40 billion ($205 million) is required to complete the projects in 2012,” said the RESIP.

It further stated: “A critical assessment of these projects indicates that most of them were abandoned due to poor funding and lack of proper planning before they were awarded. Almost all of them are grid extension rural electrification projects, and many of them even after completion may not be put to any meaningful use, as they would have no reliable source of power supply.”

In dealing with the problems associated with completing these legacy rural electrification projects, the RESIP explained that the: “FGN will through the REA engage all relevant stakeholders including the FGN MDAs involved in rural development and in particular those involved in rural electrification projects implementation: states and their rural electrification agencies, local governments, communities, industry, civil society groups, and financiers.”

“Engagement will include workshops, public consultations, private meetings, and capacity building to create the necessary interest and encourage the various actors to take over and complete some of the viable rural electrification projects that are on-going but with no clear source of funding.

“The REF will be used to provide financial support to those prioritized projects that meet the selection criteria established by REA. The REA would develop a comprehensive plan for handing over of these projects for completion by stakeholders,” it added.