By Adenitan Akinola

The Federal Government is to provide solar energy alternatives to Nigerians in a bid to cushion the effect of subsidy removal on businesses and households.

The Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency (REA) Mr Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad gave the hint in Osogbo, the Osun State capital during the inspection of Energizing Economies Initiative Project.

The Ayegbaju International Market Osogbo is being used for the  Rural Electrification Agency’s Energizing Economies Initiative (EEI) project where 48 shops have already been connected to the solar server.

Mr Ahmad said through REA, the Federal Government seeks to increase energy access and economic growth by providing clean, reliable and affordable power to economic clusters across Nigeria, such as markets, and shopping complexes among others.

The Managing Director, who was in the company of other executives, explained that the concept of the EEI project was to abolish the use of carbon monoxide petrol-powered generators. 

“We came to our Zonal office in Osun and we decided to do a short inspection of the Energizing Economies Initiative (EEI) that we have in Ayegbaju International Market, Osogbo.

“We came to see the progress of the work and we are very happy with what we have seen here today.

“The concept is to see how we can work with the market association and most importantly,  work with the state government to scale up solar power supply to the whole market,” he said 

He said at the pilot phase now, the solar power electricity is being test run on 48 shops and that in the long run, it would be extended to all the shops in the market with a power generation target of 300kwp.

He said with the interaction he had with the leadership of the market, shop owners were interested in the solar power project, as an alternative power source to run their operations/shops.

“What we have seen is the tremendous interest of the market people in the solar energy alternative,  especially using it to replace petrol generators, in the face of subsidy removal,” he said

He said as a follow-up to the inspection and interaction with the market people, he would meet and work with developers, Osun State Government, and even the market association, to draw a roadmap of how the project would be sustained and scaled up to cover the entire market.

He said with the solar system initiative, REA has been able to demonstrate a concept of solar power generation and supply, and that they can now bring in and work with other stakeholders to scale it up to the demand of Nigerians who are un-served and undeserved with electricity.

“Over 148 sites have been audited, directly by REA and with support from partners such as E-guide and Rockefeller Foundation, for the Energizing Economies Initiative (EEI) project.

“It is from these sites that Ayegbaju International Market Osogbo and Abubakar Gumi Markets Kaduna were selected to deliver the next phase of EEI projects,” he said 

He said they were taking into account the lessons learnt from phase zero and one of the project initiatives and would use it as a model for sustainable and collaborative projects with state governments and Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).

“Once the solar system construction is completed, the State Governments or DisCos, developers, and REA will be able to sit with the Market Associations to sign a multilateral agreement which ensures the long-term viability of the project while ensuring energy access to the markets.

“These projects will also, as an incidental, provide much-needed relief to the businesses in these markets by reducing the dependency of petrol generators while increasing the penetration of renewable energy sources,” he said 

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