At the recent launch of the Nigeria Renewable Energy for All initiative in Benin City, capital of Nigeria’s Edo State, Godfrey Ogbemudia, Programme Director of Community Research and Development Center (CREDC) revealed that Nigerians spend about $4.98 billion (N796.4 billion) every year in a bid to power their generating units and service their power needs.
He decried the appalling power situation saying that many Nigerians still get as low as four hours of electricity supply per day despite various governmental policies and attempts to revive the sector. Putting the figure in context, he said that $4.98 billion was equivalent to Nigeria’s national budgeted capital expenditure during the 2009 fiscal year.
Against this backdrop, he presented the CREDC as an institution committed to deploying renewable energy, especially stand-alone solar systems, to rural communities since 2006. Till date, the project ‘Nigeria-REAP’ has seen the installation of such solar systems in about 550 households in Edo state, and continues to aim at improving access to un-interrupted power supply by exploiting renewable energy.
“Nigeria-REAP is also targeted at individual homes and corporate organizations which require regular and improved electricity compared to the current rate of supply. A 2009 study on electricity distribution among the six geo-political zones in Nigeria shows that some Nigerians enjoy only four to six hours of power supply. Also Nigerians spend about N796.4 billion ($4.98 billion) to fuel their electric generators to provide electricity for themselves. But with renewable energy, there are no electricity bills, the system can be upgraded to meet your increasing energy demand, no pollution and no maintenance cost. Anybody who wants to remain in business needs sustainable power supply,” he said.
Such high expenditure on generator fuelling may soon be a thing of the past as the public and private sectors remain committed to rewriting Nigeria’s power story. Historically, the country has been generating less than 4,000 MW per year, a grossly inadequate amount for maintaining, talk less of boosting, economic development. But with the Power Africa Initiative opening the door for the likes of GE to invest more in the country and continent via credit enhancements, grants, technical assistance, and investment promotion efforts, notable improvements should be observed within the next half decade.
Already, Power Africa has awarded three $100,000 grants to entrepreneurs for innovative, off-grid energy projects in Nigeria. Partnering with Heirs Holding, UBA Capital, General Electric, Africa Finance Corporation, Africa Development Bank, the World Bank and at least 6 other financial institutions, it aims to make more financing available for boosting electrical power in Africa’s largest economy.
By Emmanuel Iruobe