Nigeria tackles power challenges in industrial clusters with offgrid solutions

by | February 14, 2018 7:21 pm



ISAAC ANYAOGU

Industrial clusters and business hubs around the country will soon get a new lease of life upon completion of off-grid projects in locations around Lagos, Aba and Kano, BusinessDay has gathered.

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) is supporting the construction of a 4MW off grid power plant for Shomolu printers in Lagos. The project is being handled by Total Support Energy, a clean energy company. Over 50,000 shops in Araria market will soon experience better power supply when the 7MW plant is completed.

Similarly, Sabon Gari market in Kano will experience better power when a solar power plant being built to serve the 11,000 stores there is completed. The state is also proposing a bill to ban generators in the market.

Businesses in industrial clusters around Nigeria have been badly affected by lack of power. Mohammed Abubakar, registrar Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON) said in an earlier comment, “the problem of poor power supply is threating to put us out of business.”

Shomolu, in Lagos mainland, is the biggest printing cluster in Nigeria, employing over15,000 people including printers, lithographic machine operators, binders, paper dealers and artisans.

Printing presses spend over 30 percent of their operating cost on private power generation as they accuse the Ikeja Electric of abdicating their responsibility to provide power for them. However the DisCos has a tough balancing act to do, as it gets around 400MW to deliver to over 10million users.

Damilola Ogunbiyi, the managing director of REA had served in the Fashola government in Lagos who in December 2011, announced an initiative to ease power challenge in Shomolu by building a dedicated independent power plant for her facilities in the area to reduce pressure on the national grid and free up power for the community. Seven years later, the project is set to commence.

Babatunde Fashola, minister of Power, Works and Housing, had said the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has issued regulations that will govern mini grids and to help scale up and serve the many underserved people in the country and assist them to leverage upon the existing opportunities.

“We propose to intervene in many ways, one of which is solar home systems, another way is to create partnerships that help us energise business in community markets like Araria in Aba, Sabon Gari in Kano, Shomolu in Lagos, Nnewi industrial cluster in Anambra and so many trade hubs in Nigeria,” Fashola had said.

In his remarks at the mini grid conference in Abuja last December, Ogunbiyi said, “From our studies, we realise that Nigerians spend about $14 billion a year on inefficient generation, we also believe that off- grid alternatives, like creating mini grid and solar home systems can easily be achieved at $9.2 billion a year, which will save the Nigerian public and citizens $4.2 billion.”

She added that Nigeria, with a population of 180 million, is the biggest and most attractive off grid opportunity in Africa, and one of the best locations in the world on developing mini grid and solar home system, stressing “we are not just saying it, we also have the World Bank banking us and the Rockefeller foundation and we have actually done an independent study of people to come up with substantive data.”

Although 30 percent of the population is with limited and low energy access, she pointed out that Nigeria has a significant mark of the population having small scale generators, which relates to something in the region of 10 to 12GW, which she said can be translated to sustainable power supply.

“Nigerian markets have the potential to take up to 10,000 mini grids investments, this is the place you can create your business in scale.

She said that with support from the World Bank on how to change the game, the Nigerian Electrification programme, is expected to bring in $350 million with $150 million dedicated to mini grids, which she hoped will serve 200,000 households and 50, 000 local entrepreneurs.

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