The Rural Electrification Agency has announced the official launch of the Africa Minigrids Program, a four-year project funded by the Global Environment Facility and supported by the United Nations Development Programme in Nigeria.
The programme aims to support access to clean energy by increasing 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 a statement on Saturday.
“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 launch at an inception workshop 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,” the REA said.
It said the Africa Minigrids Program in Nigeria was designed as an enabler project of the REA’s Energising Agriculture Programme, which 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 the quality of life for rural Nigerians, according to the statement.
Speaking at the launch,the UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria, Mr Mohamed Yahya, 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 minigrids, we will be able to close the energy access gap and unlock opportunities for people in Nigeria and across the region.”
The GEF Operational Focal Point at the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr Jonah Stanley, stressed the significance of the programme, which he described as “central to issues such as security, climate change, food production and strengthening economies while protecting ecosystems.”
While commending the collaborative spirit of the agency’s partners and stakeholders that enabled the activation of the programme, the Managing Director/CEO of REA, Mr Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, said the Africa Minigrids Program 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 added that “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 Executive Director, Rural Electrification Fund at the REA, Dr Sanusi Ohiare, said to enhance the viability of mini-grids and the impact of electrification, the programme would deploy pilot mini-grids to achieve the electrification of rural communities and agricultural value chains and establish the most appropriate solutions and business models, while amplifying the knowledge gained to catalyse private investment.