REA launches initiative to end power outages in 4 major Nigerian markets

*Kano’s Sabon Gari gets 500 of its shops electrified with solar in first phase

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) – an agency of the federal government charged with expanding access to electricity in rural parts of Nigeria, has launched the implementation of its Energising Economies Initiative (EEP) to provide stable and clean electricity supplies in four of Nigeria’s big markets.

The EEP was initiated by the REA to help Nigeria’s major markets with challenges of stable power go off the national grid and stay connected to either solar or gas sourced power supply. It is planned to help them upgrade their economic activities and profitability.

Speaking at the launch of the first phase of the EEP on Thursday in Sabon Gari Market, Kano, the Managing Director of REA, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, explained the initiative will provide efficient, clean and sustainable power to traders and shop owners in each of the four markets that have been selected to benefit from it.

She listed them to include Sabon Gari – Kano, Ariaria – Aba, Somolu Printing Community and Sura Shopping Complex, both in Lagos. OGN had reported that an energy demand audit done by the REA indicated that the four markets would need 36.27 megawatts (MW) of stable electricity to boost their productivity.

The REA audit also stated that collectively, the 36.27MW would conveniently serve 50,900 shops that are in the four market.

First phase of Sabon Gari EEP launched

Together with the Governor of Kano State, Mr. Abdullahi Ganduje, Ogunbiyi, commissioned the first phase of the project in the market which is reputed to be the largest multi-purpose markets in Kano, and trading in leather goods, pharmaceutical products, amongst others.

She told reporters at the launch that the market had been disconnected from the national grid and only gets its power from multiple diesel power generation sources, but will now gradually switch over to using solar power to do its tasks.

According to her, the REA conducted an energy audit to discover that the market which has 12,369 shops, has a load demand of 916 kilowatt (kW), out of which 500 have been connected in the first phase. Another 6,000 shops, she noted would be connected to the solar system in the second phase, while the balance would be done in the third phase.

Ogunbiyi, explained the entire market would be fully connected to the solar system by the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2018, just as the initiative would remain a private sector-driven process.

She stated that: “The REA in partnership with Sabon Gari Energy Solutions Ltd, a private sector power company, has successfully connected 500 shops in the market as part of the first phase of deployment.”

“These shops will now benefit from stable, affordable and reliable power during market opening hours. The state of the art, decentralised solar system is equipped with remote monitoring capabilities, smart meters as well as durable lithium ion batteries to support night time load.

“Convenient payment collection is also being facilitated by partnership with Paga, which will provide presence within the market through its agents as well as its digital platform to enable mobile payments. As a result of this first deployment a total of 20 skilled jobs have been created and it is expected that this will increase to 200 as deployment continues throughout the entire market,” Ogunbiyi added.

The government of the state and Sabon Gari Market Association, she noted have both provided the REA strong supports to ensure the project was successful.

Project to end incessant fire outbreaks in Sabon Gari

Speaking on the immediate benefits of the EEP to the market, Mr. Ganduje, who spoke through the state’s Commissioner of Commerce, Industry and Cooperative, Mr. Ahmad Rabi’u Bako, said the solar system would help the market contain occasional outbreak of fire that has resulted in loss of goods and money.

Ganduje stated: “We thank President Muhammadu Buhari, for recognising that we have had so many fire incidents in our market, that has been caused by using unconventional means of supplying power and every time we have power from the public supply.”

He added: “Now, we are able to get from solar which is the safest source of power and also done in a way that will benefit us not only against power outage but also the safety of the market. We have seen the facility they have here, what we are expecting is a saner, and improved business environment. We expect less hazard because there is no pollution from solar unlike before when there are so many bits and pieces of generators here.

“The company is here not just to supply power and go away, but also to maintain, that is why they have a customer care facility here in the market.”