By Constance Athekame
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) says it has signed 267 agreements worth about $395 million to provide electricity to unserved and underserved Nigerians under the Nigeria Electrification Projects.
The Managing Director, Mr Salihijo Ahmad, told journalists in Abuja that the Nigeria Electricity Programme was currently funded by a 350 million dollar World Bank loan and 200 million dollar African Development Bank (AfDB) loan to provide electricity to Nigerian communities.
He said that about 64.8 million dollars of the commitments had been disbursed to private sector partners for the execution of the projects.
According to him, the programme is expected to provide off-grid reliable and clean electricity supply to 705,000 households, 90,000 micro, small and medium enterprises.
It would also provide 100 isolation and treatment centres and 400 primary healthcare centres in unserved and underserved areas of the country.
Ahmad said that over the years, REA had moved from just being an implementer of Federal Government projects in the sector to a hub and an enabler of business in the sector.
He said the agreements signed with private developers led to over a million connections across the country.
“The REA has the mandate of taking power to unserved and underserved Nigerians. How it goes about doing this depends on where the funding comes from.
”According to the rural electrification strategy plan, we have targets to reach Nigerians everywhere in the country and the numbers at the moment, are being quoted to be as high as 80 million people,” he said.
”To achieve this, a lot of funding is required and what we are used to doing is that every year we wait and get government’s money from the budget, go to the site and then implement the projects.
”However, if you are to do this for the next 100 years, you will not be able to meet those targets hence it became important for the agency to ensure that its mandate does not end at implementation,” he said.
Ahmad said that with the Rural Electrification Fund, which is private sector driven, REA became a hub and an enabler to ensure that funding comes from different areas to enable it deliver on its mandate.
“Now government money is used as an enabler to attract private investment.
”For instance, for the rural electrification fund, you have a capital subsidy where if a project cost N100 million, that subsidy will come in, may be at 50-60 per cent and the private developer will come up with the rest of the money.
”Deliver the service to the community and go into an agreement with the community for the rest of the money,” he explained.
Ms Anita Otubu, the Head of Programme Management Unit , NEP explained that the programme had five components.
She said these include the solar hybrid mini-grid worth 213 million dollars, standalone solar home systems 75 millon dollars, energising education programme 250 million dollars.
Others were the energy efficient equipment and productive use of appliances worth 20 million dollars and technical assistance at 37 millon dollars.
She said that so far, 67 mini-grids had been completed with 995,396 solar home systems deployed, adding that with this, about 1,151 jobs were created.