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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

REA inaugurates Africa mini grids programme to expand energy access

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) says it has inaugurated the Africa Mini Grids Programme (AMP) to support access to clean energy.

Mini-grid power facility
A mini-grid power system

Mr Ayang Ogbe, the Director of Promotions, Rural Electrification Agency, said this in a statement in Abuja.

Ogbe said that the four-year project was being funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria.

He said that the programme aims to increase the financial viability and promoting scaled up commercial investment in renewable energy mini-grids, with a focus on cost-reduction levers and innovative business models.

According to him, the renewable energy mini-grids are with a focus on cost-reduction levers and innovative business models.

“The programme is active in 21 African countries, and the Nigeria national project implemented by the REA is the first to commence implementation following the official inauguration at an inception workshop.

“The workshop was hosted in collaboration with representatives from the UNDP, GEF, Federal Ministries of Power, Environment and Agriculture as well as other key stakeholders in the rural development space,” he said.

Ogbe said that the Africa mini grids programme in Nigeria was designed as an enabler project of the REA’s Energising Agriculture Programme (EAP).

He said that EAP aims to advance one of REA’s strategic priorities of focusing on the unserved and underserved to increase economic opportunities.

“Through agriculture and productive sectors in rural communities across the country, this objective is in line with the mandate of the REA to catalyse economic growth and improve quality of life for rural Nigerians.

Speaking on the project, Mr Mohamed Yahya, the UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria, said that the UNDP was delighted with the inauguration of the Africa mini grids programme in Nigeria with the REA as the project’s implementing partner.

 He said, “access to reliable, sustainable, affordable energy is a catalyst to socio-economic development, and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

“By scaling up solutions such as renewable energy mini grids, we will be able to close the energy access gap and unlock opportunities for people in Nigeria and across the region.” he said.

Mr Jonah Stanley, GEF Operational Focal Point at the Federal Ministry of Environment, emphasised the significance of the programme which he sees as central to issues.

“Such as security, climate change, food production and strengthening economies while protecting ecosystems.”

The statement quoted the Managing Director of the REA, Mr Salihijo Ahmad, as “commending the collaborative spirit of the agency’s partners and stakeholders that enabled the activation of the programme.”

Ahmad said that the Africa mini grids programme would serve as another catalyst for improved access to sustainable energy and equitable and inclusive impact on livelihoods by unlocking agricultural value addition opportunities from electrification.

 He said, “This sectoral approach is in line with the agency’s focus on programmes to advance the electrification targets and broader social and economic development objectives of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

The statement also quoted Mr Sanusi Ohiare, the Executive Director, Rural Electrification Fund (REF) at the REA as saying: “There is the need to enhance the viability of mini-grids and the impact of electrification”.

“To this end, the programme will deploy pilot mini-grids to achieve the electrification of rural communities and agricultural value chain.”

Ohiare said that the project would also establish the most appropriate solutions and business models, while amplifying the knowledge gained to catalyse private investment.”

“The AMP in Nigeria will contribute to the SDG 7 which is (Affordable and Clean Energy), Goal 13 (Climate Action) and Goal 5 (Gender Equality) with an estimate of 70,063 direct project beneficiaries out of which 34,559 are women.

By Constance Athekame

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