*Parliament approves N9.5bn in 2017 budget for projects
Nigeria’s federal government’s ‘Energizing Education Programme’ has kicked off with the decision of the country’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to formally sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with 8 federal universities and one teaching hospital for the first phase of the programme.
A statement from the REA in Abuja noted that the programme would provide uninterrupted power supply to 37 federal universities and seven teaching hospitals, using off grid captive power plants which includes a mix of renewable and gas fuel sources.
It also seeks to resolve the power challenges of these institutions of higher learning in the country, and would in the first phase benefit over 300,000 students and staff of the eight universities and a teaching hospital when completed in 2018.
Though the programme targets to generate 87.6 megawatts (MW) for the 37 federal institutions under coverage, seven of the nine planned power plants with capacity to generate 10.5MW out of a total of 26.56MW for the first phase would be fuelled by solar energy, in line with the government’s energy mix policy, while the other two would be fuelled by gas.
However, the REA also disclosed that a total of N9.5 billion has been approved for the projects by the national parliament in the 2017 budget which was recently passed and signed into law. This is in addition to including the programme in the Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSRP) initiated by the government and the World Bank.
The schools with the hybrid solar plants are Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (0.50MW); Bayero University (3MW); Usmanu Danfodiyo University (1MW); Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi (3.5MW); Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (0.50MW); Nnamdi Azikiwe University (1.50MW); and Federal University of Petroleum (0.50MW).
Those for gas fuel are University of Lagos (8.03MW); as well as Obafemi Awolowo University and its teaching hospital (8.03MW).
REA’s head of special projects, Mrs. Anita Otubu, was quoted in the statement to have said: “The Federal Government is keen on ensuring that its universities are at par with their international counterparts and recognizes access to power as an essential commodity to achieve this.”
Similarly, the Vice Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Prof. Abdulrahman Saminu Ibrahim said: “I believe it has the potential to do a lot for the universities. I want to commend the stakeholders for this particular innovation.”
While Prof. E.I. Kucha, Vice Chancellor Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, said: “We were very excited that at last we may heave a sigh of relief. So, we are happy that this programme may finally take off and our university is part of the programme from the onset.”
The statement equally added that the programme will also install street lighting to enhance security measures on campuses; develop and operate training centers for student training on renewable energy; and eventually, extend uninterrupted power to improve quality of life and economic opportunities in the surrounding rural communities of the institutions.
Defined roles to play
Within the Energizing Education Programme however, there are roles and obligations the REA and institutions would have to play to ensure its successful execution.
For the REA, it would have to provide the technical, financial and operational resources necessary for the implementation of the projects; conduct feasibility studies and support initiation of environmental and other essential studies required; support the local content policy of the federal government; apply for and obtain the necessary regulatory approvals and permits required by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Federal Ministry of Environment; procure the goods, works, and services required to implement the projects; generate and deliver the electric power from the captive power plant to the designated delivery point of the universities; and take responsibility for any costs or charges imposed on or associated with the electric power or its delivery of the electric power up to the universities’ delivery point.
REA would also develop and operate a training and workshop centre within close proximity to the captive power plant for the purposes of training students of the universities; as well as procure and install street lighting infrastructure across some major roads within the universities’ main campuses to enhance security and safety.
On the part of the universities, they would have to provide land, with all necessary rights of way and easements, situated within the university’s main campus; ensure access infrastructure to proposed sites must be in place; provide security to safeguard the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors engaged to implement the projects; facilitate the acquisition of relevant data and reports towards the conduct of required technical and economic studies for the projects; cooperate and assist REA in procuring all regulatory and governmental approvals or authorizations required or necessary; cooperate and assist REA in procuring any other necessary documents; and take receipt of the electric power at and from the university’s delivery point.
The universities would equally accept title to and risk of loss of the electric power from the captive power plant once delivered to the university’s delivery point; operate and maintain the street lighting infrastructure; ensure that the university’s electric power distribution infrastructure from the designated delivery point is fit and healthy to receive and distribute electric power delivered from the captive power plant; observe all necessary safety and other precautions to eliminate downtime during interconnection to the university’s delivery point; operate and maintain all distribution network infrastructure from the university’s delivery point; and provide REA with the necessary support required for the successful implementation of the projects.