By Emmanuel Afonne
No fewer than 340,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across the country have benefited from the Energizing Economic Initiative (EEI) of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).
Mr Ayang Ogbe, Director of Promotions in REA, made the disclosure in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
REA is the Implementing Agency of the Federal Government tasked with electrification of unserved and underserved communities.
The EEI is a government initiative implemented by the REA that support the rapid deployment of off grid electricity solutions to MSMEs in economic clusters, through private sector developers.
He said that the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Rural Electrification Agency, implemented the EEI which supported the rapid deployment of off grid electricity solutions to provide clean, safe, affordable and reliable electricity to economic clusters.
He named the clusters to include, market places, shopping centres, industrial facilities, adding that it was implemented through private sector developers.
He added that EEI which is fully funded by the private sector developers aimed to provide electricity access to over 80,000 shops across 16 economic clusters, empower over 340,000 MSMEs.
According to her, it will create over 2,500 jobs, while serving over 18 million Nigerians.
“This is a significant milestone in the financing of the Energizing Economies Initiative.
“Since the deployment of off grid electricity solutions at various markets across the country, we are already witnessing positive environmental and economic impacts.
“This is the sort of intervention we look forward to scaling across Nigeria with support from financial institutions,’’ he quoted, Damilola Ogunbiyi REA CEO as saying.
Ogbe said in a statement that Ogunbiyi noted that REA worked in collaboration with the USAID sponsored programme, Power Africa to provide technical advisory support to this initiative.
The support, she said, had helped in transforming businesses in Sabon Gari market, Kano, Ariara market, Aba; Sura shopping complex and other economic clusters with sustainable, clean and affordable power supply.
“It has also helped in increasing economic activities, spurring business growth, fostering job creation and enhancing the business experience.
“Technical advisory is a key pillar of assistance Power Africa provides to Nigeria’s power sector.
“We are focused on ensuring initiatives like the Energizing Economies are designed and implemented with regulatory, legal, financial, transactional and project management support.’’ he quoted Stephen Haykin, Director, Nigeria Mission of USAID as saying.
On the role of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ogunbiyi commended the apex bank for its commitment towards ensuring the successful implementation of EEI.
“Unwavering support has been secured at the Bankers Committee level to support the proliferation of decentralised energy solutions,” she said.
Ogunbiyi also commended Sterling Bank as the industry leader in financing off-grid energy solutions through its multi-pronged approach aimed at ensuring the delivery of projects that provide electricity to communities and businesses.
He also commended the bank for extending a five-year facility worth N446 million to Virtus for the deployment of distributed energy solutions across selected economic clusters in Nigeria.
“At Sterling, we believe that the answer to power generation is a multiplicity of options and we want to be at the forefront of the commercialisation of renewable energy.
“Our involvement in the Virtus transaction which provides N446 million in development financing demonstrates our commitment to improving the capacity of off grid private sector developers for power generation.
“We hope that this paves the way for more financing to the sector,’’ she quoted the Managing Director, Abubakar Suleiman as saying.
Virtus is a highly experienced decentralised energy consortium, sponsored by Rensource distributed energy and Solad, has a highly diversified cash flow stream from multiple markets.
Virtus also has a strong team that spans Hybrid Power Technologies, Project Management and Execution, Finance and Digital technology and payments to ensure successful implementation of the projects.
With the closing of this transaction, Virtus aims to deploy High Capacity Solar Systems to expand their coverage.
“This is indeed a significant achievement for Virtus that will further facilitate development financing in the renewable energy sector.
“It was only possible because government and the private sector collaborated to address financing challenges for off grid projects.’’ the statement also quoted Ademola Adesina, Managing Director of Rensource as saying.