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Nigeria gets $2.7m grant for clean energy, GEF de-risks off-grid lighting

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has started the process of removing the risks that may stand in the way of sustainable off-grid lighting solutions in Nigeria, with the country getting a $2.64 million grant.

Participants at the GEF de-risking off-grid lighting forum in Lagos

In collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Federal Ministry of Environment, GEF gathered stakeholders from the private and public sectors in Lagos on Thursday, August 30, to peruse the project document, which has a very short timeline.

A similar forum was held in Abuja earlier in the week, according to Faris Khader, Technical Advisor of UNDP, and Sanju Deenapanray, climate change specialist, who facilitated the Lagos event.

Khader, in his opening remarks, stressed the importance of preserving the environment.

He noted that GEF is the world’s largest public funder of projects and programmes that benefit the environment, and that Nigeria has been allotted a $2.64 million grant for clean energy.

GEF was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle the planet’s most pressing environmental problems.

The $2.64 million grant is a form of support to the $10.6 million co-financing by government, multilateral institutions, the private sector and UNDP for the project, he added.

From the grant, policy de-risking gets $614,024 million while financial de-risking gets $1.5 million. Knowledge management and scale-up strategy gets $400,000.

It is noteworthy that about half of the budget is for technical assistance, as investment in financial de-risking corners a whopping $1.3 million, leaving $200,000 for investment.

The project seeks to promote private sector investment in sustainable off-grid lighting technologies by establishing a sound policy environment that facilitates the creation of a self-functioning and sustainable market in Nigeria.

While UNDP is the implementing agency for the project, the executing agencies include Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Energy.

Deenapanray admitted that the timeline from the inception workshop on August 30 to submission of the document to GEF secretariat in January “is tight” but noted that “the next two months is the window for us to do whatever we want.”

On the issue of co-financing, which he would rather describe as “parallel financing”, the climate change specialist said, “giving people things free is not a sustainable solution.”

He added that GEF deploys incremental reasoning, demanding beneficiaries of its grants to prove that something is already on the ground for it to support with about 16 per cent, hence the ratio is averagely 6:1.

Similarly, the letter of co-financing addresses collaboration, absence of duplication and gap closure.

The stakeholders’ engagement, Khader said, is continuous, as Mr. Etiosa Uyigue, the coordinator, GEF/UNDP Energy Efficiency Programme in Nigeria, is expected to hold the fort till the next meeting in October.

From the Abuja meeting, several new ideas emanated from the stakeholders, and issue from the Lagos meeting will be married with it and sent to GEF.

At the Lagos forum, the stakeholders were expected to critique the project, whether it is clear and achievable. They were also expected to look at the budget and the January 2019 target.

Some of the issues that stemmed therefrom include: kerosene subsidy not getting to the target beneficiaries because of poor political will to follow up policies, the competition between clean energy and cheaper rivals, and the lack of confidence in facilities because of rampant substandard goods.

There was also the suggestion of reproducing knowledge through tertiary institutions and research centres.

By Chika Onwuji

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