By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
The Federal Government will next week commence installation of five million solar home systems in under-served and off-grid communities across the country, according to sources in the presidency.
The programme, which would be executed across the country, is in continuation of coordinated implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), a response mechanism by the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to coronavirus.
The programme will include the assembly and manufacturing of components of off-grid solutions to facilitate the growth of the local manufacturing industry, while the use of local content will be incentivized, the source added.
Confirming the development, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr Laolu Akande, said the work plan for the implementation of the N140 billion Solar Home Systems, a component of the ESP, indicates the first set of installations will be done nationwide in December 2020.
By its design, the programme will cover up to five million households, serving about 25 million individual Nigerians who live mostly in rural communities and not currently connected to the national grid.
Based on the plan of the Economic Sustainability Committee, set up in the year by the President, who asked the Vice President to chair, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will make funds available to the private companies in the solar power subsector involved in the manufacture, assembling, installation, servicing of the solar systems, at rates ranging between 5 to 10 percent, way below the current commercial lending rates in the country.
Sources say the objective of providing cheap credit for companies involved in the programme is to significantly reduce the cost of acquiring the system by end-users who are Nigerians most of whom are not being served by the national grid.
“The reduction in the lending rate will be a big incentive for the private sector under the ESP while also making power and energy more affordable for the 25m Nigerians when compared to consumers of electric power.
“The Solar Home System, as an important component of the Buhari administration’s ESP, is designed as part of measures by the federal government to ramp up power supply across the country by catering specifically for communities not connected to the national grid.
“It is also part of the administration’s strategy to address the overall challenges and issues in the power sector as Solar is not only cheaper but considered to be cleaner and renewable.
“Aside from providing access to affordable energy, the objective of the plan is to improve social, economic and environmental welfare of 25 million Nigerians while generating jobs, increasing revenues and import substitution.
“Regarding jobs, the ESP 5m Solar installation is expected to create about 250,000 jobs including in manufacturing, assembling, installations, maintenance and payment systems,” Akande explained.