By Nkechi Isaac, Abuja |
Energy is the tonic for the development of any society. It powers all sectors of development. Energy is needed for practically running all arms of the society ranging from the telecoms sector, agriculture, health, oil and gas, schools and even the day to day activities such as heating food, water and all other essential activities needed to make life more comfortable.
However, the issue of low energy is common in most developing countries which sees a lot of communities and areas cut off from the national grid. This situation has seen many governments, especially in Africa, struggling to meet the needs of the rural dwellers who are not captured in their nations’ main energy grid.
With the growing issues of climate change and pollution, governments are increasingly turning to cleaner sources of energy to meet the energy needs of rural dwellers such as renewable energy and other sources which nature offers. There are increasing cases of cooperation between government and international partners to provide energy by grouping those not on the nation’s main source of energy in minigrids.
One of such projects is the Africa Mini-grid Programme (AMP), an initiative that is being supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
At a virtual stakeholders’ consultation workshop with critical stakeholders in the mini-grid space in Nigeria, the executive director of Rural Electrification Fund (REF) at the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) of Nigeria, Dr. Sanusi Ohiare said the AMP, being implemented in 11 countries in Africa, including Nigeria had the overall objective of supporting African countries to increase access to energy by reducing cost and increasing the commercial viability of low carbon mini-grids.
He explained that the workshop was organized to create awareness of the project among stakeholders in the mini-grid space in Nigeria and to solicit their support to further develop the components of the project in line with the Nigerian context.
Earlier in his good message, the UNDP representative, Mr Muyiwa Odele, restated the project being implemented in the 11 countries would be designed in a conceptual manner to reflect the priorities of the Nigerian government, adding the REA, Ministry of Environment and other relevant government agencies would share the vision of the government with regard to renewable energy.
He reiterated that the objective of the stakeholders’ engagement was to reflect on the project’s priorities with a view to jointly refine the ideas, even as he commended the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) and REA for efforts of making affordable energy available in Nigeria, adding the project couldn’t have come at a better time especially with the recent review of electricity tariff in Nigeria.
Earlier in his presentation, the team lead of the project, Dr. Sanju Deenapanay, said the objective of the AMP project was aimed at achieving greater energy access impact by creating new mini-grid markets and sharing lessons across the continent.
He said the opportunity the team planned to tap into were the falling hardware costs, disruptive technologies, innovative business model and policy reforms, with its approach aimed at reducing financing, hardware and soft costs, and promoting innovative business models, adding the project was working towards UNDP’s global SDG7 target which is to provide access to clean and affordable energy to 100 million people by 2030.
He listed the AMP partners to include the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which as the main donor, allocated $24.2 million in December 2019 and $344 million in parallel co-finance; UNDP, the lead partner, directly executing regional project and working with national government partners in executing majority of GEF-funded national child projects (9 of 11).
Others include RMI, joint partner with UNDP for AMP regional project; African Development Bank (AfDB), participating partner providing parallel finance/executing child projects in Angola and Madagascar (jointly with UNDP); and national governments implementing partners for majority of national projects with many other partners (BOAD, AMDA, etc.)
The 11 participating countries in the AMP projects are Angola, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Djibouti, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.
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