At a time when it is becoming impossible for the Nigerian government to provide electricity for its citizenry, the Bank of Industry, (BoI) has intervened to give rural settlers access to power, in its ‘rural electrification project’. The initiative is aimed at providing electricity to the millions of rural dwellers who do not have access to the national grid. It is also aimed to sensitise Nigerians to alternative renewable energy sources.
True to its promise to reduce the number of Nigerians without access to electricity in the rural areas, the BoI recently commissioned a 24 kilowatt (KW)-stand-alone solar electrification plant for the residents of Charwa/Chakun, an off-grid community in Markafi Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The N32 million-micro grid solar project is the sixth pilot programme to be built by the development finance body in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme UNDP, which is said to have cost both organisations over N240.6million.
“What we are implementing is a tested and commercially sound model for delivering power to the Nigerian rural homes at affordable rates. We want all our rural communities to take control of their energy needs by paying for only the energy they use,” acting Managing Director of the bank, Mr. Waheed Olagunju said while commissioning the new project.
The users are required to buy electricity vouchers through a wireless mobile technology from a local vendor employed by the project developer within the community, which will be used to recharge the pre-paid meters provided to them. He said that it would have meaningful impact on the local people and open up business activities in the area. He also said that there is a high demand for solar electricity systems from all quarters of the country as a viable alternative to the eroding power supply from the national grid.
Many rural communities including Bisanti, in Katcha LGA of Niger State, Ogbekpen, Ikpoba, in Okha LGA, of Edo State, Onono, Onibambu in Ife-North LGA of Osun State, Anambra West LGA, of Anambra State and Kaltungo LGA, Gombe State have also benefitted from the BoI/UNDP project. “This is the sixth of the last pilot project that is being implemented in partnership with the UNDP. We have achieved our objective of ensuring that we sensitise Nigerians to alternative renewable energy sources that are more efficient and cleaner.
Testimonies from the five communities where we have successfully commissioned off-grid solar solutions are quite positive.’’ Olagunju said each home under the Charwa/Chakun project would have sufficient solar electricity to power three LED light bulbs, 1 electric fan, 1 radio/TV set and mobile phone charging system.