REA pushes for communities ownership of power systems, enlists 99 co-ops

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) – an agency of the federal government tasked with connecting rural people to electricity supplies, has initiated a new drive that could strengthen the capacity of rural communities to own and operate power supply systems in their localities.

Christened the Rural Electricity Users Cooperative Society (REUCS), the REA said it intends to use the new initiative to get rural communities across the country to partner with private firms to build and operate new power systems, mostly mini grids.

Already, the agency said it has registered 99 community cooperative societies comprising 22 in the northeast, 32 in the northwest, nine in the northcentral, 10 in the southwest, 11 in the southeast, and 15 in the south-south, to participate in this initiative.

It explained that the effort was part of its mandate, and that it was using it to mobilize and sensitize rural communities across the country to form cooperatives on electricity generation and usage.

“Rural communities are expected to own, operate and maintain their electricity networks in collaboration with private companies providing the know-how required to operate such systems effectively and efficiently.

“To promote productive use of electricity for domestic and commercial purposes. To educate rural communities on effective and efficient use of electricity. To partner with Discos and IPPs in their localities for the provision of electricity at an affordable price,” said REA on the objective of the initiative.

It further listed, “to solicit for cooperation, understanding and support of all stakeholders in the electricity business for the provision of electricity in the rural communities,” as part of the objectives.

Listing the advantages of the initiative, REA said it would encourage community participation in the provision of affordable and sustainable electricity in their localities.

It added that it would also, “create platforms for interactions between the rural communities and all the stakeholders in the electricity business in their areas.”

It further explained that its advantages would include: “To ensure prompt payment of electricity bills by member through the cooperative society. To encourage members to offer services willingly for the collective benefit of communities. To educate communities on the use of electricity, operation, maintenance and safety through public awareness campaigns.”

How to be a member

On how community members can become part of the initiative, the REA explained that it was voluntary and open to all electricity users in the community irrespective of gender, religion and political affiliation.

It however stated that: “Application for membership shall be made through the secretary of the society. A member shall be admitted after election by the management committee subject to confirmation at the general meeting of the society. A formal letter of membership shall be issued to each duly assigned by the secretary of the society.”