85 million Nigerians spend N540.75 weekly on battery-torches, others

On the average, N540.75 is spent every other week by 85 million Nigerians on battery-powered torches and other energy substitutes because they have limited or no access to stable electricity, a presentation by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has shown.

Titled, ‘unlocking barriers to large scale deployment of mini-grids in Nigeria,’ and presented at the December 2017 mini grid conference the REA organized in conjunction with its development partners – the World Bank, UK DfID, and Climate Investment Fund, in Abuja, the document noted that circa $1.50 (N540.75) is spent every week by this population group on kerosene, and charging of their mobile phones.

It said this translated to an annual spend of $6.5 billion in 2016, some two years back. REA which described the development as a good investment potential, stated that it has developed strategies to change this.

“Battery-powered torches and other energy substitutes: 85m Nigerians spend ~$1.50/week on mobile phone charging, torches, kerosene,” said the presentation which added that 64 per cent of this people live in rural parts of the country.

It explained that after India with 244 million of her population un-electrified, Nigeria has the second highest population without access to electricity globally.

REA said to solve this conundrum, it would initiate a shift from centralized power generation and distribution to decentralized approach. It said standalone solar systems and mini grids would be part of this approach.

“Standalone: Promote the development and roll-out of stand-alone systems. These systems to help provide critical services for hardest-to-reach customers.

“Mini grids: Encourage the development of mini-grids by communities and private enterprises. Grids below 100kW do not require permit, between 100kW to 1MW a permit is required from NERC,” it explained.

Further on its strategies, REA said: “Energizing education: This is a rural electrification initiative with the prime objective of developing off grid independent power plant (IPP) projects for the generation and provision of adequate power supply to thirty (37) Federal Universities and seven University Teaching Hospitals and surrounding communities

“Energizing economies: Promote efficient, clean and sustainable power to catchment areas that have high growth impact on the economy. Select economic clusters primarily for their high level of commercial activities.”