Nigeria has allocated in its 2017 budget, a line item of N2 billion with which it would kick-start its Rural Electrification Fund (REF), the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Mr. Louis Edozien, has said.
Edozien disclosed this in Abuja when the federal government, civil society organisations, and private sector investors in renewable energy made far-reaching commitments to take up activities that will accelerate the growth of the distributed renewable energy (DRE) market in Nigeria.
The ‘call to action’ was initiated by the global Power for All, a network of operators and parties advocating for the use of renewable energy to reach Nigerians that are currently not connected to the national grid.
He said the REF which is domiciled with the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), a department of the government saddled with the job of expanding access to electricity in Nigeria, would start off with N2 billion as provided in the 2017 budget, and would enable private investors with viable off grid renewable electricity projects in rural communities across the country access finance to execute their projects.
According to him, the 2017 budget was still with the National Assembly, but that it is hoped the N2 billion REF provision would be allowed to stay in the budget by the legislature and then be made available eventually.
“This is where the REF comes in, it is a mechanism that allows a community or project promoter to articulate a project with definite beneficiaries and gives REA a framework to support this without being the executor.
“The executive put a line item of N2 billion in the REF in the 2017 budget and if that becomes part of the budget, then it becomes the duty of the executive to implement and we wait to see the outcome of the legislative action on this,” said Edozien in his remarks.
When operational, the REF would also be populated with funds from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). These would include NERC’s earnings on its regulatory sanctions to recalcitrant operators in the country’s power sector.