By Etuka Sunday
Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) and the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) have signed a $1.06million grant to provide electricity to underserved communities through the implementation of up to 1,370 solar-powered mini-grids with energy storage systems.
The signing ceremony which was held on Friday in Abuja was another visible effort of AEDC to explore available solutions for the provision of 24/7 electricity to customers within its franchise area of FCT, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi States.
The Managing Director/CEO, AEDC, Engr. Ernest Mupwaya while signing the grant expressed gratitude to the USTDA for funding the study, saying that the gesture will enable AEDC achieve sustainable overall improvement consistent with its desire to provide quality electricity to its franchise area.
“We are grateful that the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has committed funding to help the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company provide electricity to underserved communities through the implementation of up to 1,370 solar-powered mini-grids with energy storage systems. Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Institute will carry out the study.
“With this support from the USTDA in partnership with Rocky Mountain Institute, we are going to be able to conduct a feasibility study that will identify specific opportunities for different areas so that we can ultimately have bankable solutions, which in turn can facilitate partnerships with other investors.
“This will enable us achieve sustainable overall improvement consistent with our desire to provide quality electricity to our franchise area,” he said.
Engr. Mupwaya said, electricity no doubt is one of the key parameters used in measuring the extent of development of any nation.
He said, the 2017 report by International Energy Agency revealed that while many of the developed countries have already attained 100% electrification access, scores of developing nations particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa have remained behind and are recording low access rates that are characterized by poor reliability.
He said, the report estimates 1.1 billion of people yet to be connected while another 1 billion is being supplied with poor quality of electricity.
The reasons, according to him, could be group under brad headings of economic, social, legal and environment.
He said, globally, electrification for all has been identified as the 7th united nation’s sustainable development goal which must be attained by 2030.
He said, “in order to address this challenge, there’s consensus among different actors that what is required is a pragmatic approach that takes into account various options in addressing the electrification gaps.
“These can be grouped into three main categories as follows: Main grid extension to capture new customers, Improvement of quality of supply by augment grid supply with other alternative sources and Off grid solution for far flung areas.
“In our environment for instance, there is a huge disparity in the level of electrification between urban and rural areas where access to electricity is higher in urban areas compared to rural areas,” he said.
The AEDC boss said, “as a Company, we have designed a strategy which seeks to holistically examine how the obvious huge gaps in the level of electrification can be narrowed.
“In addition, we are developing and implementing initiatives to improve the quality of supply in urban areas.
“We are also considering how we can close up the gaps in rural areas where the challenges, some of which include the affordability of electricity, long distances which require extensive network remain unique to these areas,” he said.
Mupwaya said, “the goal of this grant for the study therefore include: the identification of optimal locations for complimentary mini grid deployments within the catchment area of AEDC, Part of strategic plan to provide power 24/7 starting with Abuja and Development of an integrated distribution framework that combines the central grid with decentralized off grid power solutions, which will, where appropriate, include mini grids, off grid mini grids, grid extension projects and solar home systems.”
Earlier, the Acting Director, USTDA, Thomas R. Hardy said, “Nigeria is a dynamic market with many opportunities for cooperation between our private sectors. USTDA’s support for these energy projects will strengthen business ties between our countries and deliver important results for the Nigerian people.”