Vice president Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday, January 31st in Abuja flagged off a solar energy initiative by Azuri and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) that the two energy firms said would deliver affordable, clean energy to 20,000 rural households that are currently living without electricity.

The flag off of the “PayGo Solar Home Systems”, which took place at Wuna village of the FCT, is part of activities under the “Presidential Initiative on Rural Solar Home Lighting Systems.” The Azuri/NDPHC project is expected to create 500 direct jobs, including solar installers and agents, as well as another 5,000 indirect jobs within a minimum period of 24 months. “Nigeria is committed to improving accessibility to power, especially solar power for the people,” said the vice president.

Azuri’s PayGo Solar Home Systems has the capacity to power four LED bulbs, providing up to eight hours of lighting, together with a radio, and also have a USB port with cables for charging mobile phones. Customers pay the monthly top-up rate via mobile money platforms for 36 months, after which time the unit can be unlocked and the customer owns the unit.

These customers are also provided with options to upgrade to a larger system in what Azuri describes as its “energy escalator pathway”. The Nigerian government’s ambitious renewable energy policy aims to increase energy production from renewable sources from 13 percent of total electricity generation in 2015 to 23 percent in 2025, with a vision to ramping up the capacity to 36 percent in the year 2030.

NDPHC is a government-funded agency that was founded to add new capacity to Nigeria’s electricity supply system, and Azuri’s partnership with the company indicates the government’s support for off-grid solar systems’ rollout and its commitment to renewable technologies as a sustainable way for generating electricity for rural communities.

“Let me state at this point that NDPHC is actively involved in the presidential initiative on rural solar home lighting systems, where 20,000 units of solar home systems are being deployed in under-served rural areas with no access to grid electricity supply,” said Chiedu Ugbo, the managing director/CEO of NDPHC. Azuri Technologies is a leading commercial provider of PayGo solar home systems to rural off-grid communities, which boasts of the widest reach of any such provider in sub-Saharan Africa. It has a combined solar and mobile technology that allows customers to access power on a pay-as-you-go basis for as little as half the cost of the fossil fuels being replaced.

According to Simon Bransfield-Garth, Azuri’s CEO, “Nigeria’s commitment to increasing its renewable energy mix marks an opportunity for the reliable solar alternative to addressing the challenges of energy access.” With its pioneer operations in Kenya in the year 2011, Azuri has expanded its reach to serve about 90,000 households across 12 African countries, reaching approximately half a million people.

Johnson Alabi
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