Why the UK is spending yet again in Nigeria’s power sector

The United Kingdom has set up another funding window to improve electricity access to Nigerians and people in 14 other African countries.

It said that this time, it was taking up the initiative to firmly support market operators or participants in Nigeria’s clean energy market supply electricity to vulnerable rural communities and marginalised groups.

The operators would use clean off-grid solar electricity systems to reach these people within the next four years that the UK will keep up its funds for this through the Africa Clean Energy Technical Assistance Facility (ACE-TAF).

Launched recently in Abuja, the ACE-TAF is reportedly backed by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). It would catalyse the country’s solar markets and enhance access to stand-alone solar for vulnerable groups and communities in the country.

What ACE-TAF is and would do

According to a statement from the ACE-TAF, the programme launch brought together 45 stakeholders from across the energy sector in Nigeria, including representatives from the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

According to it, there were also representatives from the off-grid renewable energy industry comprising donor and development partners, industry associations, investors and financiers, market accelerators and support organisations, and solar companies.

The statement explained that ACE-TAF which came at a time the Nigerian government has embraced off-grid solutions as part of the country’s energy mix to provide reliable energy access for millions of Nigerians, was designed to follow up on the UK government’s commitments in the DFID Energy Africa Compacts.

It added that the programme would catalyse a market-based approach for private sector delivery of high-quality stand-alone solar systems in the beneficiary countries.

It would also complement government, private sector and donor initiatives to overcome barriers preventing the development of off-grid solar markets.

According to it, the implementation of the ACE-TAF will lead to improved access to modern energy services for vulnerable rural communities and marginalised groups in 14 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“In Nigeria, ACE-TAF aims to complement government, private sector and donor initiatives to overcome many of the barriers preventing the development of markets for high-quality stand-alone solar (SAS) systems.

“The programme will support the Nigerian government’s rural electrification strategy, facilitate the attainment of its renewable energy targets and support policy and regulatory reform leading to increased energy access, especially for marginalised and vulnerable persons and other initiatives to catalyse private markets in clean energy solutions in the country,” said the statement from ACE-TAF secretariat.

It further quoted the Team Leader of ACE-TAF, Pauline Githugu, to have said that the programme would be comprehensively implemented.

Githugu said to support the intentions of ACE-TAF: “Electrification is a right for all. The private sector will work with government in give-and-take to ensure this. We will be working closely with all of you.”

Equally in his remarks at the launch, the Assistant Chief Electrical Engineer at the ministry of power, Mr. Temitope Dina, stated that the ministry looked forward to leveraging the country’s burgeoning solar market to drive up energy access in Nigeria.

According to Dina: “The ministry looks forward to partnering with ACE-TAF to enhance the stand-alone solar market and solve the basic energy needs of rural and vulnerable people as it will help in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 7 of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy access for all.”

The statement indicated that the programme will work in close partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF).

It thus quoted a representative of the IFC, Mr. Allwell Nwankwo, to have said that: “It is a great time for ACE-TAF to come into Nigeria. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is one of the forerunners in the renewable energy sector and will be working with ACE-TAF on the adoption of national standards for stand-alone solar solutions in Nigeria.”