Vice President, Osibanjo Says N140b solar project not free

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Following the development on the solar projects, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has told the beneficiaries of the N140 billion home solar project that it is not free.

The solar systems are part of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) that the President Muhammdu Buhari administration’s response to the economic effects of COVID-19.

According to him, the government was determined to bring power to un-served communities.

Osinbajo spoke at the launch of 100,000 Solar Home System in Jangefe community, Kazuare Emirate, Jigawa State.

He praised the management of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) Limited for playing leading role in Federal Government’s plan to provide electricity to 25 million Nigerians through off-grid connections to five million homes.

According to the Head, Communication & Public Relations of the NDPHC, Olufunke Nwankwo, she explained that Prof Osinbajo  described NDPHC as a catalyst for connecting communities across the country to off-grid systems.

He said: “Another challenge which became an opportunity for us was the Covid-19 and our response to that which as many know was Economic Sustainability Plan.

“The President’s vision around that plan was that rather than have situations where people lose jobs and opportunities; we could take the opportunities of Covid-19 to create more jobs. We could take the opportunities of the economic fallout to create more opportunities for the Nigerian people.

“So the President approved that we should do these five million solar home connections across the country which would mean that 25 million Nigerians would have power. But not just that, there will be jobs around those who will manufacture, those who will assemble the solar systems, those who will install them will have jobs, those who will maintain them will have jobs and those who will also supply the payment systems and maintain the payment systems will also have jobs”.

He explained that the N140 billion finance programme will support private developers to provide power to the households.

Osinbajo said the initiative is a partnership programme with the private driving the connections, supported by concessionaire lending by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks.

“The power provided is not free but we have put in place structures to make sure that the connections are affordable to all those who will use it. Then the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, ably led by Chiedu Ugho, who has been an important catalyst for off-grid solar systems such as we have here today. They were the first to launch the 100,000 systems with Asolar, the same group that is providing this, has provided in several states of the Federation,” he said.

Also speaking at the launch, the Minister of Power, Engr Sale Mamman said the programme when fully implemented will generate additional N7 billion in tax revenue per annum and $10 million in annual import substitutions.

Engr. Mamman said the Ministry will supervise the programme and would ensure the expansion of off-grid connections across the country.

Governor Baderu Abubakar thanked President Buhari for choosing the state as the starting point of the programme.

He pledged the support of the state government in ensuring its success.

Speaking earlier, the Managing Director/CEO, NDPHC, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo said the company had already provided 20,000 units of solar home systems to households across the country.

“Those 20,000 are working as we speak and then the government asked us to do another five million solar connections, that will include solar home systems and mini-grid, off-grid solutions”, he added.

He explained that the 100,000 solar home systems launch is the second phase of NDPHC’s beyond the grid project.

Also earlier, the Executive Director, Generation, NDPHC, Engr. Kassim Abdullahi described the event as an important milestone in the Buhari’s administration, in the process of ensuring that all Nigerians have access to electricity.

Engr. Abdullahi disclosed that about 1000 units would be deployed in the Jangefe community, which is the pilot community for this phase.