By Toyosi Ayo-Bello
In the last few years, the rise of Nigeria’s economy to become the largest in Africa has often been heralded for overcoming numerous systemic obstacles, but there remains one obstacle which many believe holds the country back: a chronic shortage of power supply.
A new change
Fortunately, a new deal has been made with the UK Department for International Development. An additional £16.7 million grant for SolarNigeria program has been approved, aimed at helping solar suppliers and financiers scale up, and providing Nigerians access to power, along with enabling millions of Nigerian households to experience reliable power by 2020.
£0.5 million to solar vendors and financiers to boost solar power in Nigeria
In 2016, a financing pilot will provide £0.5 million in grants to mobilize the provision of commercial finance into the value chain for household-scale solar light and power systems, said Leigh Vial, Head of Consumer Markets at SolarNigeria.
Banks and solar specialists will be invited to apply for the grant in the next pilot scheme, while SolarNigeria will help capable solar vendors and financiers to rapidly expand their capacity to reach consumers with financed solar solutions.
More homes connected to solar energy
The Pilot programs in 2015 provided capacity building grants of £1.5 million to 16 companies, and has supported 49,000 households across the country in acquiring solar systems in just three months this year. More than 14,000 of the homes which have benefited are in northern Nigeria, where grid deficiencies and the need for reliable power are the most acute.
Additionally, 49,000 homes across Nigeria acquired solar lighting and power systems in just three months this year with help from SolarNigeria, as part of an innovative program that helps solar suppliers and financiers scale up and allow households to access this equipment on full commercial terms.
Solar market key to solving Nigeria’s energy poverty
The mission of the SolarNigeria program is to scale up the private market for small solar lighting and power systems. Funded by UKAID, SolarNigeria will help millions of Nigerian households (and micro enterprises) to access modern clean lighting and power at a lower cost than kerosene lanterns and small generators.
For the first time, these homes now enjoy bright light and reliable power at a lower cost than kerosene and generators. All systems were accessed on full commercial terms, with the householder paying cash, taking a loan, or renting the equipment.
A solar bet
Exploring solar energy could be a more realistic option to fix some of Nigeria’s power issues, since building new national grids could cost billions of dollars to the country. In the long term, an alternative clean energy will also help the country meet its ambitious plan to reduce emissions by as much as 45% by 2030 as part of the landmark climate change deal reached in Paris/COP21 earlier this year.
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