The executive vice-chairman of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammed Haruna, has revealed the agency’s target to contribute 50 megawatts of solar energy to Nigeria’s national grid by 2023.
He made this known during the closing ceremony of the agency’s week-long skill acquisition training and youth empowerment for 100 youths on solar installation and maintenance in Awka, Anambra State, over the weekend.
Haruna said the agency has, through its solar manufacturing plant in Karshi, doubled its capacity to 21mw per annum and would move its production capacity to 50mw to bridge the gap created by the importation of over 80 per cent of substandard products into the Nigerian market.
He harped on the need for training and retraining of technicians in the solar system electric power supply subsector, stressing that it is important for the nation to have a competent workforce if the nation seeks self-reliance and industrial development.
“Technicians must be trained and retrained for knowledge updating. Failure to acquire skills and training for solar electricity supply is the root of most failed solar installations across the country. This is frustrating and discouraging to customers, some of whom are considering the popular solar system as a myth instead of a reality.
“Some installations are a failure even before commissioning. No two solar system installations are the same, even (if they are) of the same size and capacity. Load survey, computation and analysis are on a case-by-case basis. Accordingly, you must acquire skills on how to carry out load survey, design, component specification and selection and then, component matching in that order before installation. The solar power system is modular and there are specific methods and scientific approaches to installation, repairs and maintenance,” he said.
The NASENI boss reiterated that there can be no industrial development without a skilled workforce, stressing that Nigeria cannot continue to import machines, men and other equipment when it has the raw materials for its industries and can aspire for an industrial economy.
He maintained that skilled citizens are the most important of all components of the knowledge-based economy, adding that the mandate of skilled development given to NASENI by President Muhammadu Buhari is among the key legacies of the present administration.
Haruna further urged the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to commence a five-year programme to reboot tertiary education workshops and laboratories across the country with appropriate equipment that will make it possible for all students to acquire, at least, an occupational trade skill before graduation.
“Compulsory skill acquisition course is needed as an integral part of tertiary education curriculum of National University Commission (NUC), the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) as a modification or substitute of entrepreneurship programme of tertiary education that is of limited impact,” he added.
In her remarks, the chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Sen. Uche Ekwunife, was optimistic that the training would be beneficial to youths in the state.
“I strongly believe in the importance and gains of the training today which cannot be overemphasised.
“The mandate of NASENI is for capital goods in the areas of research on reverse engineering, industry, chemical, chemistry and engineering.
“The essence of this training is actually to train our youths on solar installation and maintenance.
“If you look at the way the country is going today, we are trying to find alternatives to energy and solar is one of them.
“I believe that if the trainees paid attention to what they were taught it will make them self-reliant and train others,” she said.
Ekwunife, who also chaired the event, thanked the agency on behalf of the committee for empowering the young people; a venture she called “important” and one which “Nigeria needs for rapid industrialization”.