Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the solar cells production factory being built by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) will be a game-changer in Africa’s climate change action.
Osinbajo made this submission on Friday, March 24, 2023, at the foundation laying ceremony for the esablishment of NASENI Solar Cells Production Plant, in Gora, Nasarawa State.
The vice president said that the factory, the first of its kind in West Africa, placed Nigeria within the ranks of countries pushing the boundaries in the use of climate-smart alternative energy sources, particularly solar power.
The agreement to establish the production plant was signed in July 2013 and was renewed in collaboration with the China Great Wall Corporation (CGWIC).
The plant is projected to produce 19,800 jobs.
According to Osinbajo, solar cells are critical to the entire solar energy value chain, because they determine the sensitivity of solar panels to trap and accumulate solar energy from the sun.
“For those watching NASENI closely, I am sure you will find the connection between this historic development and the Federal government’s proactive steps to ensure that NASENI gets one per cent of the federation account annually as prescribed by its founding law.
“It is evident that this has heralded a new dispensation for NASENI; one that has given it the financial wherewithal to execute its mandate of delivering technological and innovative interventions across critical sectors of the economy.
“Sectors such as including Agriculture, Health, Defence and Security, Power and Energy, Financial Services, Solid Minerals, Additive Manufacturing, Smart Fabrications, Factories, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and Virtual Manufacturing.’’
He said that, for over 10 years, NASENI had been consistent in championing solar power as an alternative to hydro and fossil power sourcing.
The vice president said that the agency established NASENI Solar Energy Limited (NSEL) in Karshi, FCT, with a mandate to deliver alternative solar energy to homes and businesses in Nigeria.
Osinbajo said: “The development and maturity of the NASENI Solar Energy Limited whose operations have been driven with the vim and zest of a tech start-up, forecasted an increase in local content of the solar energy production system in Nigeria, leading to ever-increasing production of solar cells.
“But perhaps more importantly given the urgency of climate action today and the importance of developing African green energy manufacturing and solutions, NASENI’s solar cell production factory in Nigeria will be a game-changer.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, $50 billion worth of diesel fuel is used each year, with diesel generators producing more energy than the entire energy grid in 17 countries in the region.
“The resultant emission of carbon monoxide has since become a major and worrying source of pollution.
“In Nigeria, for example, generator emissions are equivalent to emissions from all of the country’s 11 million cars put together; this is clearly unsustainable and calls for a significant shift.’’
The vice president said that the Energy Transition Plan (ETP), the first in Africa, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2022, set out Nigeria’s pathway to decarbonisation by 2060 and achieving universal energy access by 2030.
According to him, the ETP projects an increase in the use of solar power in the Nigerian energy mix, surpassing even gas by 2035.
He said that the factory could not have come at a more crucial time.
“Not only is the beneficiation model it has adopted innovative and consistent with the African Union’s energy transition plan in the face of global warming, its output, at full operational capacity, will further impact the solar energy value chain in Nigeria through the low production costs of solar panels.
“In due course, this will in turn attract new investment, local and foreign, for the establishment of solar panel manufacturing plants across Nigeria.
“The prudent decision to site the factory in Gora, Nasarawa State, leverages translational research into the biogeography, geological surveys, and mining cadastral reconnaissance that has positioned Nasarawa as the home of solid minerals in Nigeria.
“The major raw material requirements for the production of solar cells – silicon and silica – are naturally occurring in abundance in this area,’’ he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, Executive Vice Chairman, NASENI, applauded the vice president for his efforts in securing the buy-in and approval of the National Economic Council for the project.
He said that the project, the first of its kind in Africa, would change the energy status of Nigeria being the first of its kind in Africa.
Haruna said that the project would cost $171.9 million with 85 per cent funding from the China-Africa Development Fund through the Bank of China and 15 per cent local funding from Nigeria.
On his part, Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State said that the project would help the state to maximise its potential.
“It gives us an opportunity to further untilise our mining potential in the state; every local government in the state has one type of mineral or the other.
“These are the minerals that are needed as raw materials for all these projects,’’ he said.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Abdullahi Adamu, the Emir of Lafia, Justice Sidi Bage retired and Hu Shinkai, Representative CGWIC, also delivered goodwill messages at the event.
By Chijioke Okoronkwo