…we expect mini-grids to bridge the gap-MD, REA
By Etuka Sunday
The World Bank Group yesterday disclosed that 80 million Nigerians still lack access to electricity, even as it said, millions more suffer from poor service.
World Bank Country Director, Nigeria, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud gave the data at the 4th Mini Grid Action Learning Event: Upscaling Mini Grids for Low-Cost and Timely Access to Electricity” holding in Abuja.
Mr Benmessaoud who was represented by the Work Bank Global Lead, Energy Access, Mr Mac Cosgrove-Davies called for closer collaboration with stakeholders especially government to bridge the electricity gap in the country.
“We know what is at stake: Globally, more than 1 billion people still lack access to electricity; Sub Saharan Africa is home to about 600 million of these. In Nigeria, 80 million people are without access, and millions more suffer from poor service.
“This is not a job for any one of us alone. As mentioned, The Government of Nigeria is pushing hard toward universal electrification. The Nigerian government has asked the World Bank’s support for a National Electrification Project that focuses on off-grid opportunities including mini grids and the World Bank is delighted to respond to this request. We know that our development partners – many in this room – are also standing shoulder-to-shoulder with government on this effort.
“For the World Bank’s part, the National Electrification Project fits well into a broader energy portfolio in Nigeria which aims to holistically support sector development. Together with all of you, we are seeking to help our Nigerian colleagues make the most of international expertise and experience as it fits the Nigerian setting.
“We must all contribute, each in our own way.
Success for this learning event, for all of us, will be measured in how far, how fast, and how high we can take this sector,” he said.
The global bank boss expressed joy that, “each meeting has doubled in size from its predecessor: the first one in Tanzania welcomed 75 participants; the next in Kenya hosted 150; in Myanmar 300 people joined us; …today we are expecting 600 participants at this event.”
Meanwhile, the Management Director/CEO, Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi, said the Agency expects mini grids to fill a substantial portion of the 80million gap covering up to 8000 villages nationwide.
Mrs Ogunbiyi assured investors that the gap is an opportunity in the sector, saying that “Nigeria is the biggest and most attractive off-grid opportunity in Africa and one of the best locations in the world for mini-grids and solar home system.”
Speaking on the authenticity of the data she said,
“We have the world bank backing us, and Rock Institute, we have done independent study of the people to come up with substantive data on that.
Apart from being the largest economy in the sub-saharan Africa, our population of about 180 million again is a very attractive opportunity.
“From our study, we discovered that Nigerian businesses spend about $14 billion (5 trillion) annually on inefficient generation. We believe that off-grid alternatives, like mini-grid and solar home systems could bring in $9.2 billion a year business which saves Nigeria public and citizens $4.4 billion.
“Even though we have 80% of our population limited on low grid access, and we do have significant amount of the population using small scale generators which relates with something in the region of 10 Gigawatts to 12 Gigawatts, this can be translated to sustainable power supply,” she said.
The event was sponsored by the World Bank Group, Climate Investment Funds, Department for International Development, Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and Engery Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMPAP).