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By Nkechi Isaac
Leadership Newspaper— Feb 9, 2015 |

The United Nations Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) have donated a 4.0kWp solar micro off-grid power station (SMOPS) to Roguwa community in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

The project executed with cooperation from the National Orientation Agency (NOA) is made up of 20 units of 200 watts solar PV panels in five arrays which generate a minimum of 14.0Kwh daily and connects 63 beneficiaries, including households, businesses and healthcare centre to the SMOPS.

Speaking during the commissioning ceremony, the director-general of the ECN, Prof. Eli Bala, said the initiative was aimed at increasing access to clean, reliable, cost-effective and sustainable energy in rural communities that hitherto depended on unsustainable energy sources for cooking, lighting, etc.

Prof. Bala said, “Over 60 per cent of Nigerians living in rural and semi-urban areas, whose energy needs are often basic depend to a large extent on traditional, rudimentary and inefficient renewable energy conversion devices like open-to-sun drying method and the traditional three-stone woodstove for meeting their cooking and heating energy needs.

“These rudimentary and inefficient technologies for solar drying and cooking with fuel-wood lead to unhealthy food items and continuous felling of trees, desert encroachment and soil erosion, thus, making it unsustainable.”

Saying the activity of cooking and lighting is vital for human sustenance, he said “the challenge is to introduce an option that will be affordable and acceptable to rural dwellers; it is therefore, commendable that the UNDP over the years has been supporting Nigeria through the ECN to develop its huge renewable energy potentials readily available in these rural areas for sustainable socio-economic development; and supported with energy efficiency best practices.”

The ECN boss said the UNDP had supported the commission, as far back as 2005, to produce the first ever Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP) drawn from the renewable energy component of the National Energy Policy (NEP) document to provide national strategies and actions for increased penetration of renewable energy in the national energy supply mix.

He said, “To facilitate this, the commission has worked with the UNDP to provide renewable electricity for water pumping; village electrification; vaccine refrigeration; power rural school laboratory and educational facilities (computers, teaching aids, documentaries); communications (telephony, television, radio) all of which are important to poverty reduction and the realization of the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan.”

In his remarks, the director-general of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr Mike Omeri, called on the community to join hands and support governmental activities.

He urged the community to maintain peace, saying there can only be meaningful development with peace.

Omeri used the occasion to encourage the residents to collect their permanent voter cards (PVCs) and participate actively during the general elections.

Giving an overview of the project, the national project coordinator of UNDP-GEF Energy Efficiency (EE) programme, Mr Etiosa Uyigue, said Roguwa community was selected for the pilot scheme of the access to sustainable energy in rural communities in Nigeria because it was completely cut-off from the national grid.

Uyigue said, “Roguwa community is among the several communities in Nigeria that do not have access to grid electricity, despite the proximity to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, from Abuja Central District.”

In his address, the head of Roguwa community, Alhaji Ahmed Hassan, lauded the intervention, assuring the community would protect and preserve the project.

He further called on other non governmental and private organisations to take similar steps to improve the living conditions in rural communities as government alone cannot conveniently carter for every community in rural areas.

Speaking to journalists, the unit head of sustainable development department of the UNDP, Mr Muyiwa Odele, said the organisation planned to upscale the project and connect more households within four months.

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