261,938 Nigerians Get Electricity As USAID Ends Project

Tayo Olanipekun

A total of 261,938 Nigerians got their houses and businesses connected to electricity supply for the first time in the last four years through the U.S government-backed Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (REEEP), benefiting from the 2.51 megawatts of power provided by the program.

The access to “clean and reliable energy” thus enabled involved 16,600 connections and it saved 85,000 gigajoules (GJ) of energy because efficient technologies were utilized, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Power Africa Initiative that funded the project.

REEEP Chief of Party, Javier Betancourt, announced on Monday at the Close-Out Ceremony hosted in Lagos at the American Guest Quarters, that the project would finish its official activities February ending but expressed optimism that its partners will continue in Nigeria the “forward momentum we’ve built together and bring broad benefits to the sector.”

REEEP, which ran from March 2014 to February 2018, aimed at reducing carbon emissions, increasing economic opportunities, improving employment and sustaining development in Nigeria.

The project has put to use environment-friendly mini-grid, off-grid and on-grid electricity and according to the Sustainability Project Manager of Winrock International, Morgan Ashenfelter, “it reduced or sequestered 4.5 million metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.”

Winrock International implemented the project and it noted about $2.1m was leveraged in financing for REEEP from both domestic and international investors.

The project also worked directly with local banks, providing them technical assistance and group training sessions on needed knowledge that will enable the financial institutions appropriately asses the credit risks of REEEP.

According to the Clean Finance Expert of CEADIR, an implementing partner, Olugbolahan Mark-George, five commercial banks in Nigeria are already partnering in the project.

“We work with 70 banks, five of which are in Nigeria, to teach them how to lend to the sector, due to the nascent nature of renewable energy,” said Mark-George.

Many small scale businesses have also received a boost following the access to electricity supply they gained. A restaurant owner, Olamide Olasunkanmi, said he used to run his generator set from 6pm to 12 am to chill his drinks. “If there is power always, we can build another hotel,” he says.

Post Author: Tayo Olanipekun