The Federal Government on Wednesday announced that it would jumpstart the Rural Electrification Fund with N2bn and that this had been provided for in the 2017 budget estimates.
It stated that the idea to commence the REF with N2bn was to enable private investors with viable off-grid renewable electricity projects in rural communities across the country to access the fund.
This, it said, would boost the supply of electricity as it would ensure that rural communities were served by the power generated outside the national grid.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Mr. Louis Edozien, disclosed this in Abuja at an event where the Federal Government, civil society organisations and private sector players in renewable energy declared their resolve to enhance the growth of Nigeria’s renewable energy market in order to provide electricity to communities not connected to the national grid.
The event was organised by the Power for All group, a network of operators and parties advocating for the use of renewable energy to reach Nigerians who are currently not connected to the grid.
The permanent secretary also gave reasons why the Rural Electrification Agency, which is charged with the task of expanding access to power across the country, had several uncompleted projects in the rural areas.
He noted that the 2017 budget was still with the National Assembly, but that it was hoped that the N2bn REF provision would be accommodated eventually.
Edozien pointed out that the repeated imposition of rural electrification projects by members of the National Assembly had left the REA with over 2,000 of such projects uncompleted.
He said, “In terms of project selection and with specific reference to the REA, the agency has close to 2,000 projects dating back five to six years. Their work is challenged by the way the budgets for an agency like the REA are assessed and eventually determined.
“The executive put a line item of N2bn in the REF in the 2017 budget, and if that becomes part of the budget, then it becomes the duty of the executive to implement, and we wait to see the outcome of the legislative action on this.”
The Country Campaign Director, Power for All, Ms. Ify Malo, said the ‘call to action’ in which stakeholders made declarations of their plans for the renewable energy sector would be used to measure the progress made in the industry going forward.
She said, “Power for All is a global campaign to promote distributed renewable energy as the fastest, most cost-effective and sustainable way to achieve universal energy access.”