The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has disclosed that out of the 37,000 shops located within the busy Ariaria International Market in Aba, Abia State, 4,000 have been connected to clean, affordable and stable electricity generated from a 9.5 megawatts (MW) gas-based power plant built under its Energising Economies Initiative (EEI) by a private investor. It said other shops would be connected to the power system built by Ariaria Market Energy Solutions Limited (AMES), and recently commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Over a one year period, the REA said the federal government supported EEI which it implements to ensure rapid deployment of off-grid electricity solutions to provide clean, safe, affordable and reliable electricity to economic clusters such as marketplaces; shopping centres and industrial facilities, would assist over 80,000 shops, empower over 340,000 micro, small and medium enterprises, as well as create over 2,500 jobs with the initial 16 economic clusters while serving over 18 million Nigerians.
It explained that Ariaria has 11 sections and over 37,000 shops with several trading activities including tailoring, textile trading, leather works and footwear production, printing, fabrication of tools and mechanical parts, pharmaceuticals, adding that AMES was the Special Project Vehicle (SPV) set up to fully fund, construct and manage the plant.
According to the agency, the Ariaria power system consists of a gas-fired power plant; an extensive distribution network and robust metering systems for each shop. According to the agency, over 15,000 SMEs are currently receiving affordable and constant power supply to run their businesses, with the project reportedly creating 250 direct jobs and 370 indirect jobs already in the market.