The Federal Government through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has inaugurated the Energizing Economies Initiative (EPP) project geared at removing specific markets and major economic centers across the nation off the national grid. This project is aimed at supplying these markets with clean, stable and sustainable electricity. The project would cut across four major markets, one each in Kano and Abia states and two in Lagos. The markets are; Sabon Gari – Kano in Kano State; Ariaria – Aba in Abia State, Somolu Printing Community and Sura Shopping Complex, both in Lagos.
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According to the Managing Director of REA, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, who launched the first phase of the EEP at the weekend in Sabon Gari Market, Kano, noted that the initiative will provide efficient, clean and sustainable power to traders and shop owners in each of the four markets in order to boost their productivity. She explained that REA conducted an energy audit to discover that the market, which has 12,369 shops, has a load demand of 916 kilowatt (kW). According to her, 500 shops have been connected in the first phase, with 6,000 expected to be connected in the second phase, while the balance would be done in the third phase. She noted that the initiative would be solely driven by private sector investments and the entire market would be fully connected by the fourth quarter (Q4) 2018.
“The REA in partnership with Sabon Gari Energy Solutions Ltd, a private sector power company, has successfully connected 500 shops in the market as part of the first phase of deployment. These shops will now benefit from stable, affordable and reliable power during market opening hours. The state of the art, decentralised solar system is equipped with remote monitoring capabilities, smart meters as well as durable lithium ion batteries to support night time load.
“Convenient payment collection is also being facilitated by partnership with Paga, which will provide presence within the market through its agents as well as its digital platform to enable mobile payments. As a result of this first deployment, a total of 20 skilled jobs have been created and it is expected that this will increase to 200 as deployment continues throughout the entire market.” she said.
Similarly the Governor of Kano State, Mr. Abdullahi Ganduje, who was represented by the Commissioner of Commerce, Industry and Cooperative, Mr. Ahmad Rabi’u Bako at the unveiling of the first phase of the project in Sabon Gari, Ogunbiyi noted that the market, which had been disconnected from the national grid would now get its power from multiple diesel power generation sources, which would gradually shift to using solar power to undertake its activities subsequently. He further noted that the solar system would help the contain the occasional outbreak of fire that has led to loss of monies and goods.
He said: “We thank President Muhammadu Buhari, for recognising that we have had so many fire incidents in our market, that has been caused by using unconventional means of supplying power and every time we have power from the public supply. Now, we are able to get from solar which is the safest source of power and also done in a way that will benefit us not only against power outage but also the safety of the market. We have seen the facility they have here, what we are expecting is a saner and improved business environment. We expect less hazard because there is no pollution from solar, unlike before when there are so many bits and pieces of generators here. The company is here not just to supply power and go away, but also to maintain, that is why they have a customer care facility here in the market,”.
According to REA, the EEP is private sector driven with the federal government providing project management, legal, regulatory and transaction support. It added that Sabon Gari Market, being located in northern Nigeria, will benefit from high solar irradiation.