Dateline Friday, December 15, 2017. The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing restated that the Energizing Education Programme (EEP) of the Federal Government is aimed at rejuvenating the nation’s education system by providing uninterrupted power supply to a total of 37 federal universities and 7 university teaching hospitals. According to the Ministry, the clarification become necessary in the light of the misrepresentation of the Programme as a mere “solar-powered streetlight project in nine universities across the country valued at N10bn,”

The ministry had noted that a national newspaper “while purportedly reporting the proceedings of the 2018 Budget Defence Meeting of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy attended by the Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency on Thursday, 14th December 2017 in a report, which first appeared in its Online version, claimed that the Senate “criticized a solar-powered streetlight project” thereby deliberately misrepresenting the Energizing Education Programme (EEP). The ministry had said, “far from being a “streetlight” project, the EEP, in fact, seeks to rejuvenate the education system through electrifying a total of 37 federal universities and 7 university teaching hospitals, with Independent Power Plants (IPPS), which will boost effective learning, innovation, and advancement through uninterrupted power supply.

In addition to helping to extend electrification to rural and underserved areas in which the institutions are located ultimately, the Programme will enable the institutions benefit from world-class training schools, for the training of students in renewable energy, as well as provide optimized security, for the safety and well-being of students and staff, through the installation of streetlights on campus which is only a small component of the Project”.

It Maintains that, “although implementation of this programme is led by the power sector, through the Rural Electrification Agency, the Vice Chancellors and the Ministry of Education have signed onto this as a critical investment in the education sector. It further said “The deliberate attempt to water down the significant impact this Programme will have on the enhanced education of Nigerian students is out rightly unpatriotic as it sought to prevent the socio-economic development of our nation and In addition to the open and transparent coverage of the milestones attained preparatory to the take-off of the Project like the Meetings and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the REA and the first set of participating tertiary institutions, the Ministry holds itself ready to provide further details to the media and any other interested entities to stem any further misrepresentation”.

LIFELINE TO UNIVERSITY COMMUNITIES: THE REA ROADMAP

In a country where a good number of government agencies are moribund and virtually ineffective, it is refreshing to see that the Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi led Rural Electrification Agency that was set up by Section 88 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 to help tackle the energy and electricity problems and challenges that have seemed insurmountable in Nigeria, is now living up to its potentials and purposes.

  • It is indeed noteworthy that a lot of exciting and contemporary projects are being undertaken by the REA under the leadership of the present administration to finally kick-start the process of finding real solutions to the daily energy problems that all Nigerians continue to grapple with.
  • The EnergyNews team of reporters has been following some of these novel carbon emissions reducing and new energy technologies with a lot of interest.
  • Just recently, The Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency, in conjunction with the World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Climate Investment Funds (CIF), and UK Department for International Development (DFID), hosted a five day summit in Abuja,Nigeria, with the theme, “Upscaling Mini grids for Low Cost and Timely Access to Electricity Services”.
  • The initiative for this summit was based on a joint analysis carried out by “a new collaboration between the Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency (REA), the World Bank and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) that found that developing off-grid alternatives to complement the national grid will create a $9.2B/year (N3.2T) market opportunity for mini-grids and solar home systems that will save $4.4B/year (5B) for Nigerian homes and businesses and subsequently unlock the nascent mini grid market in Africa”.
  • The high-level forum was designed to accelerate action on scaling up mini-grids to help countries reach universal energy access by 2030, and was the fourth in a series of successful events on mini-grids organized by the global community in the past two years.  This was the first time this event will be held in West Africa and it was a clear indication of the commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria towards supporting investment in off-grid electrification initiatives and the vast investment opportunities in Nigeria for the development of mini-grids and roll out of solar home systems which have a combined potential market of $9.2 billion annually.
  • Getting off-grid Electricity solutions to a commercially viable scale in Nigeria has the potential to unlock an enormous market opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa, across 350 million people in countries with smaller demand and/or less-robust economies. However, at the event, it was clear that many stakeholders agreed that Nigeria is well positioned not only to address market barriers, but also to showcase to other nations that mini grid are commercially viable.
  • During that event, the Honourable Minister of Power, Works and Housing, MR. Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN, raised the hopes of sustainable energy investors when he said that “I see only opportunities in Nigeria and not challenges and policies have been developed by the current administration to help entrepreneurs fast-track energy access for underserved populations.” He also commended the instrumental partnership of the World Bank in developing the power sector and the Rural Electrification Agency for developing data to help private developers reach the communities they need.
  • In her presentation, the managing director, Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, said that“The aim of Rural Electrification Agency is to roll out 10,000 mini-grids rapidly to support the underserved communities in Nigeria and with the current regulatory landscape, Nigeria is the best market to do mini-grids. The off-grid will be treated as importantly as the on-grid in Nigeria.”.  
  • According to   Mac Cosgrove-Davies, Global Lead Energy, Access, World Bank, In Nigeria, 80 million people lack access to electricity and millions suffer from unreliable service. The World Bank and the Government of Nigeria are working together to make mini-grids a viable solution to bridge a large share of the electrification gap in the country, and the Rural Electrification Agency will be the implementing agency for the fund”.
  • The event brought together more than 600 global participants from over 50 countries which included Governments, global organizations, the private sector, academia, NGOs and the media, to discuss ways to facilitate fresh investments in the sector as well as to accelerate the deployment of mini-grid systems. The summit ended with a site visit to 37.8 kW Bisanti solar mini-grid, constructed by GVE Projects Limited in collaboration with the Bank of Industry (BOI), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and Institute of Electrical Electronics Engineers (IEEE) located in Katcha Local Government Area of Niger State, Nigeria.
  • Of particular interest to EnergyNews is the Rural Electrification Agency’sENERGIZING EDUCATION PROGRAM.  Educational institutions in Nigeria are seeing the lowest ratings ever on virtually all indices in their over 50years existence.
  • If we narrow our attention to Electricity supply, we find that access to an uninterrupted power supply in Federal Universities and University Teaching hospitals in Nigeria has been cited as a major challenge and barrier to effective learning, institutional operations, and student residency. Considering the role of education in economic growth and socio-economic development in Nigeria, the Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing resolved to embark on viable projects that will ensure the availability of reliable, sustainable and affordable power to our tertiary institutions. This led to the conception of the ‘Energizing Education Programme’ (the EEP). The EEP is one of the programmes designed to implement the energy access and sufficiency action point of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (EGRP) and it is also incorporated into the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved Power Sector Reform Programme (PSRP), as a vital component of the PSRP.
  • The decision to seek a sustainable solution to this problem was also informed by the need to alleviate the burden of enormous costs borne by the Federal Universities in self-power generation which includes but is not limited to the high capital expenditure on diesel-run generators and the need to ensure Nigeria adheres to her obligations under the Paris Agreement, through the promotion of renewable and cleaner energy technology and towards the reduction of hazardous emissions.
  • According to the REA, the overall goals and objectives of the EEP include the following:
  • To provide off-grid captive power plants for 37 federal universities and 7 university teaching hospitals, across the six (6) geopolitical zones;
  • Provide street lights to ensure safety for students, staff, and visitors of the institutions;
  • Rehabilitate, strengthen and extend the existing distribution networks;
  • Develop and operate training centers to train and certify students in courses related to renewable energy; and
  • Distribute power to surrounding communities in the second tier of each phase as a strategy for rural electrification, subsequently resulting in an increase of economic activity within those communities and general well being.
  • The Federal Government of Nigeria will finance the EEP Phase 1 Projects.
  • ENERGY AUDITS

  • The innovative thing about this current REA initiative is that energy audits were conducted for all the Federal Universities and the adjoining University Teaching Hospitals across the country to determine the energy consumption and future load growth of each of the institutions and the results derived therefrom were then used to develop the business case and subsequent Standard Bidding Documents (SBD) for the procurement of goods, works and services required for the EEP.
  • Mr Olatunji Adeboye, a final year engineering student of the Obafemi Awolowo University in Osun State, said that in all his years as a resident student, that he had never been able to practically carry out any of the scientific experiments that he and his classmates should have done due to a lack of Electricity supply and that the few times there was light, it didn’t last long enough to actually finish any experiment.
  • The Energy audits also revealed a total population of 224,800 across the Phase 1 Universities, thereby further justifying the necessity of the EEP Phase 1 Projects. This significant number indicates the number of residents, students, and staff that will be positively impacted, as it relates to well being, security, quality of learning and services provided and overall socio-economic development of the country.
  • PROCUREMENT PREPARATION

  1. a) Programme Implementation Phases
  • According to a source at the REA, due to cost implications and time constraints, the projects under the EEP cannot be implemented at the same time; therefore, the EEP has been divided into phases. Phase I was designed for the generation of 28.56 MW covering nine (9) Federal Universities and one (1) University Teaching Hospital across the six geopolitical zones.
  1. b)
    Technology Justification
  • It was recommended that Gas-fired plants were the viable solution for 2 of the Phase 1 Universities/projects, whilst solar hybrids were recommended for the remaining 7, along with the justification for the choices proposed captured in the table below:
S/N University State Plant Type Cap (MW) Justification
1 Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University–Gubi Campus Bauchi Solar Hybrid 0.50 Across the North and middle belt of Nigeria, there is adequate sun yield (the amount of energy provided by sunlight), which is ideal for solar technology solutions. Furthermore, the universities in these locations offer the land sizes needed to deploy the necessary solutions. As a result, the Solar Hybrid solutions were recommended as these universities offer the most enabling environment for solar technology.
2 Bayero University–New Campus Kano Solar Hybrid 3.00
3 Usumanu Danfodiyo University–Main Campus Sokoto Solar Hybrid 2.00
4 Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi Benue Solar Hybrid 3.50
5 Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo Ebonyi Solar Hybrid 1.00 Despite the fact that the Southern region of Nigeria has a low sun yield, the requirements for these universities (the maximum here is 2MW) are relatively low and as such, do not require large parcels of land for the deployment of the power plants. Due to the space availability and low energy requirements offered by the universities, a solar solution is feasible. This also gives an opportunity for the government to promote clean, renewable energy.
6 Nnamdi Azikiwe University-Awka Campus Anambra Solar Hybrid 2.00
7 Federal University of Petroleum Delta Solar Hybrid 0.50
8 a. Obafemi Awolowo University

b. Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital

Osun Gas 8.03 In the South-West area of Nigeria, the sun yield is also very low and is definitely not able to satisfy the energy requirement of 8MW of energy. Also, the minimum land size required for a plant is roughly 5,000 sqm per 1MW, space that the University of Lagos was not able to provide. Considering the large space of land and the high number of solar panels required to service an 8MW power plant, it would not be practical to deploy solar solutions to these universities and as a result, gas-fired plants are the preferred solution due to the availability.
9 University of Lagos Lagos Gas 8.03

Stakeholder Engagement
  • On the 19th of September 2016, a Key Stakeholders Forum on the EEP  was held with the Federal Ministry of Education, National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Vice Chancellors, Deputy Vice Chancellors and Directors of the forty (40) federal universities and the Hon. Minister of State and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. The Energizing Education Programs goals and objectives were exhaustively analyzed and were widely applauded and accepted, which led to the successful signing of Memorandum of Understandings(MOU) between the Rural Electrification Agency and the Phase 1 Universities in June 2017.
  • These MOUs confirmed the approval and willingness of the Phase 1 Universities to participate in and benefit from the EEP Phase 1 Projects, as well as provide the necessary support required from their part, to ensure the successful implementation thereof. The Executive Secretary of the NUC also attended the signing ceremony and also confirmed its total commitment and support to the implementation of the EEP.
  • In accordance with NERC Permits for Captive Power Generation Regulations 2008, the REA through a letter ref: REA/01/MDCEO/NERC/10/VOL.1/2017/116 and dated 27th June 2017, applied for the permits to operate the captive power plants for the EEP Phase 1 Projects. The captive power permits have been granted in a letter ref NERC/07/LLC/17/KG/298 and dated 13 days of November 2017.
  • SUSTAINABILITY MEASURES
  • In view of the staggering number of ‘ White Elephant Projects ‘ gathering dust and mold all across the country, the issue of sustainability is considered a very key and paramount aspect of the EEP Phase 1 Projects. It is not only important that the projects are not abandoned, but are effectively built, operated and maintained using highly skilled and experienced personnel as well as state of the art technology.
  • Eweoritsewumi Douglas, a non-academic staff of the University of Lagos in Akoka, Yaba decries the sheer number of decrepit diesel generators and abandoned low-grade solar panels littering the surrounding areas of the different University faculties, Staff quarters and student hostels.
  • With the goal of both sustainability and long-term cost-effectiveness, Provision for one (1) year Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of the Phase 1 Projects, has been incorporated into the bids submitted and covered by the BPP approved corrected tender sum. This 1-year O& M forms part of the ten (10) year O&M plan that has been developed for the Phase 1 Projects. According to the REA, It is expected that the EPC Contractor will also undertake the O&M for the remaining 9 years of the O&M plan, to ensure seamless operation and maintenance of the Phase 1 Projects and to avoid finger pointing/transfer of blame between contractors, in the event an issue arises with the operation of the technology, which could potentially result in the halt or delay in services.
  • JUSTIFICATION FOR PROGRAMME
  • The EE Programme is in line with the fulfillment of the social contract and the Federal government’s responsibility to its citizens, and will positively affect the education, health, power, law enforcement and finance sectors of the country. In this regard and as mentioned above, it will primarily address the challenge of access to an uninterrupted power supply with a focus on Nigerian tertiary institutions, the lack of which has been cited as a major challenge and barrier to:
  1. Effective learning,
  2. Innovation and advancement
  3. Institutional operations, law enforcement and security
  4. Student residency and quality of life
  5. University small, medium, and large-scale businesses
  • It is envisaged that taking Universities and University Teaching Hospitals off the grid would:
  1. Ensure self-sufficiency in power and sustainable development for Nigerian Universities;
  2. Free up energy on the grid which could be better channeled towards improving supply to deficient areas;
  3. Reduce air and noise pollution from diesel and petrol generator alternative power supplies. (As shown from energy audit results, the universities are currently using 1,068 generators as an alternative source of power);
  4. Encourage the development of renewable energy and captive power plants. This is in line with Nigeria’s INDCs under the Paris Agreement with respect to developing renewable energy projects as an alternative cleaner source of energy;
  5. Improve the general standard of learning and living in Universities – improved security through street lights, costs of personal power sources, health and safety issues associated with alternatives such as candles and other open flames.
  6. Improve healthcare service delivery, research, teaching, and innovation in the Universities Teaching Hospitals and reduce mortality rates ;
  7. Improve the global status/ ranking of Nigerian Universities

According to our findings at EnergyNews, the current administration at the Rural Electrification Agency under the leadership of the Managing Director, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to help provide sustainable Electricity to a really large number of unserved communities across Nigeria. They are employing cutting-edge modern technology in data analysis, carbon emissions control, research and development and partnering with the most innovative environmentally friendly energy providers to provide solutions to our own unique power problems. It is quite refreshing and exhilarating and we are definitely aboard for the ride.

Maureen Nzeogu
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