Nigeria rolls rural electrification agenda using universities’ solar farms

About 40 public universities solar farm projects picked to provide electricity to semi-urban and rural communities around them will fully come on stream this year as Nigeria begins to implement its new rural electrification strategy, the minister of power, works and housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has disclosed.

Also to be considered for use in this programme are few community based small hydro dams. Fashola said a review of the implementation plan for the rural electrification programme has been completed and approved for use by the government.

He said an audit of the solar radiation potentials of the selected universities have been completed, indicating that procurement and construction would follow, as Nigeria races to cut her wide energy poverty and provide electricity to about 80 million of her citizens currently without supplies from the grid.

“We have completed the rural electrification implementation programme, and small hydro powers, universities solar projects are going to be the anchor for this,” said Fashola at a recent power dialogue organised by Nextier Advisory in Abuja.

He stated: “Because we know most of our universities and even universities across the world are situated in rural areas or semi-urban places, we think that we can take advantage of that to build a captive consumption market from these places. We have completed audits for 40 universities for the programme from which we can generate power from solar farms that we will build in them, to supply and power communities around them.”

Using its Energising Education Programme Initiative (EEPI), a collaborative effort of the ministries of education, power, works and housing, the government said it planned to take public universities operated by it off the national grid, to make them generate independent electricity for their consumption and supply to communities around them.

It reportedly started this in 2016 with the commissioning of the construction of a 10 megawatts solar farm in the University of Ibadan.