Experts see equipment imports as threat to Nigeria’s DRE market

Experts in the various facets of global electricity industry have indicated that Nigeria’s reliance on other countries to produce most of the essential equipment used in setting up distributed renewable energy (DRE) systems at project sites in the country could interrupt the market’s growth plan.

According to the experts who gathered at the recent second edition of the Nigeria Energy Forum (NEF) in Lagos, the continued import of major materials by operators in Nigeria’s DRE industry would impact negatively on the market’s sustainability plans.

They thus recommended that an investment partnership between private sector operators; Nigeria’s Bank of Industry (BoI); and other relevant industry groups, in manufacturing of DRE equipment in-country to cut down the domestic market’s reliance on importation.

“The domestic renewable energy manufacturing industry should be developed by the private sector with support from the Bank of Industry and Renewable Energy Agency, as importation of equipment would not guarantee long-term sustainability of the renewable energy sector,” said a communique of the NEF that was signed by the duo of Dr. Oluwole Daniel Adeuyi, and Mr. Sunday Adekunle Makinde, forum chair and general co-chair respectively.

The over 100 experts which included government; development partners; industry; academia; and the private sector persons further requested in the communique that: “An Energy Innovation Fund should be established by the public and private sector to support early-stage business ideas, build a pipeline for energy access using different renewable technologies and demonstrate the effectiveness of innovative technologies in energy networks.”

The communique also explained that the NEF had the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; and Nigeria’s power minister, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, in attendance, although they were represented by the permanent secretary in the power ministry, Mr. Louis Edozein.

It said a consensus was however reached that: “Renewable (solar) technologies could improve energy access for households and unlock economic growth for businesses, hence, government subsidies on tax and duty waivers should be implemented to overcome barriers to market entry and regulations should be introduced to allow efficient mobile banking sector that allows telecoms companies to process small payments for pay-as-you-go solar schemes.”

On capacity development in the industry and far-reaching acceptance of DRE in Nigeria, the experts recommended in the communiqué that: “Collaborative international research and training opportunities on renewable off-grid technologies; electric power systems; and energy networks should be provided to professionals in the public and private sector to foster knowledge-exchange and transfer practical skill sets.”