REA launches Africa mini-grids programme to boost energy access across Nigeria

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REA launches Africa mini-grids programme to boost energy access across Nigeria

Story from Abah ADAH, Abuja

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has officially launched what is known as Africa Mini-grids Programme (AMP) as part of efforts to expand energy access across Nigeria.

AMP, a four-year project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria launched Thursday, 29 September, 2022, 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.

The programme is active in 21 African countries and the 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.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Mohammed Yahya, the UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria who expressed delight over the launch of the project in Nigeria, said, “Access to reliable, sustainable, affordable energy is a catalyst to socio-economic development and thus to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a statement made available to Neptune Prime via REA official e-mail said.

“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.”

The GEF Operational Focal Point at the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr Jonah Stanley, emphasised the significance of the programme which he sees as “central to issues such as security, climate change, food production and strengthening of economies while protecting ecosystems.”

Commending the collaborative spirit of the Agency’s partners and stakeholders that enabled the activation of the programme, the Managing Director/CEO of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Engr Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, said, “The Africa Mini-grids Programme will serve as another catalyst for improved access to sustainable energy with inclusive impact on livelihoods by unlocking agricultural value addition opportunities from electrification.”

“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.”

In his remarks, the Executive Director, Rural Electrification Fund (REF) at the REA, Dr Sanusi Ohiare, pointed out that “to enhance the viability of mini-grids and the impact of electrification, the programme will 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”.

The AMP in Nigeria will contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 13 (Climate Action) and 5 (Gender Equality) with an estimate of 70,063 direct project beneficiaries out of which 34,559 are women. The lifetime global environmental benefit is estimated at 74.2 ktCO2e.

As part of the upcoming United Nations Climate Conference COP27 (7-18 November, Sharm-el Sheikh, Egypt), the Africa Mini-grids Programme partners – UNDP, RMI, and GEF will co-host the event entitled “Africa’s Just Energy Transition: Scaling Up Renewable Energy Mini-grids for People and Planet”.

The Africa Mini-grids program in Nigeria is designed as an enabler project of the REA’s Energising Agriculture Programme (EAP) 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 quality of life for rural Nigerians.

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