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REA to install 1000 solar mini grids nationwide in underserved communities

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has announced its plans to install over 1,000 solar mini-grids nationwide to increase electricity access in underserved communities in the country.

The Managing Director of the agency, Mr. Ahmad Salihijo, said this at the REA Rural Electrification Fund (REF) Call 3 bidders’ workshop in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to him, the plan was in line with the five million solar-based connections across Nigeria through the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).

As the implementing agency for Nigeria’s rural electrification strategy and implementation plan, Salihijo noted that the REA continues to support off-grid developers by creating an enabling environment to facilitate investments in various ways, including access to data, policy support, grants, capacity development, and financing.

The agency’s goal of providing and increasing energy access to millions of Nigerians through renewable energy, he said, was critical if Nigeria is to deliver the economic benefits that will spur rural economic growth and development in Nigeria.

Represented by the Executive Director Corporate Services, NetufoOlaniyi, Salihijo noted that through the testimonies from the commissioning of various REA projects, including REF Calls one and two mini-grid projects, the REA has proven that renewable energy technology, its economics, and business models work.

“We, therefore, have no doubt about the capacity of leveraging our off-grid renewable energy potential to transform more rural communities across the country through the REF Call 3.

“We expect that over 1,000 mini-grids will be built in the next few years, in tandem with other REA programmes and initiatives, as well as the recently announced intervention of the president to deploy 5 million solar-based connections across Nigeria through the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).

The purpose of the REF Call 3 Bidders workshop, he said, was to sensitise all the shortlisted bidders on the Eligibility and Selection Criteria for Business and Financial Models, Technical Specifications, Regulatory Requirements, and the timeline for the submission of their proposals.

Salihijo noted that the REA continues to work to ensure that stakeholders not only see the potential in off-grid sector development but that they also wish to participate, and in the process strengthen their commercial positions.

“We would like to reaffirm our commitment to continue doing everything necessary to help you (the developers) succeed,” he stated.

On the sidelines of the programme, he stated that it was to sensitise the bidders relating to the standards and specifications and the output needed as well as economic models required after checking the sites.

“From our mandate we are to energise rural areas from 10 kilometres from the normal grid from the facilities of the Distribution Companies (Discos) and providing access to the communities,” he added.

According to him, it’s a continuous process which would lead to over one million connections, with solar homes systems in call 1 and 2 already achieved.

In his presentation, the Deputy Director, REF, Mr. Magaji Abdu, noted that the REF was poised to support and promote equitable regional access to electricity.

In addition, he explained that the fund would maximise the economic, social and environmental benefits of rural electrification subsidies and expand access to yet to be electrified rural areas.

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