News image 2023-11-06

Stakeholders seek decentralisation of renewable energy solutions

Stakeholders in Nigeria’s electricity sector have bemoaned the slow pace of growth in electricity access, especially using decentralised renewable energy solutions.

Rising from a high-level policy dialogue themed Sustainability, Inclusiveness, and Governance of Mini-grids in Africa (SIGMA)... they agreed to work together to address the several challenges facing the expansion of mini-grids in the country.

The event, hosted by the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED) provided a platform to present and validate the findings from a multi-year, multi-country UK-funded research project on SIGMA.

Speaking at the programme, the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Power, Joshua Gana, said the forum provided a valuable opportunity to engage stakeholders in seeking solutions to the challenges of electricity access.

Gana underscored the critical role of collaborative efforts among government agencies, private sector entities, and local communities in fostering the successful execution of mini-grid initiatives nationwide. He reiterated the commitment of the House of Representatives in leading legislative efforts to expand electricity access to rural communities.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on the Environment, Yunus Akintunde, emphasised the role of decentralised electricity governance in expanding energy access.

According to him, governance and institutions are key to expanding access, especially in rural areas. “A situation where all agencies responsible for electricity access are located at the federal level cannot be acceptable.

“We need electricity agencies at the local government level, just the way we have local authority over basic education and primary healthcare. This will facilitate effective governance, planning and monitoring of mini-grid development in the country,” he added.

Earlier, the Nigeria Team Leader, Ewah Eleri, expressed concern over the current scale of mini-grids in the country. Eleri pointed out that Nigeria requires at least one million five hundred new connections yearly over the next decade to close the current electricity access gap.

He said: “To meet the scale of the electricity access challenge, Nigeria needs to grow its electricity supply by seven times the current available electricity. In capacity terms, we need to expand our electricity supply to 42 gigawatts, almost ten times what is available today.

“A significant amount of this component must be represented by decentralised renewable energy options. It is important that we scale up the ambition for mini-grids to help in closing the current electricity access gap,” he concluded.

While presenting the key findings of the research project, the Co-Investigator of the project in Nigeria, and lecturer at the Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law at the University of Ibadan, Temilade Sesan, pointed out that Nigeria must re-evaluate the role of market forces and government in delivering electricity access through mini-grids.

Sesan said: “Today, the technical, financial and environmental sustainability of mini-grid development in Nigeria is questionable. It is also uncertain that the benefits from the increasing interest in mini-grids are spread evenly, especially as it affects women. We therefore must recast the role of government in enabling access. That’s why governance is at the heart of delivering sustainable and equitable to mini-grids”, she emphasised.

In his remarks, the Director, Rural Electrification Fund, Anthony Akene, underscored the significance of mini-grids in powering rural communities, particularly those situated in remote and hard-to-reach areas.

However, he pointed out that the mini-grid sector continues to grapple with substantial challenges, including issues related to low-income levels and the lack of technical expertise in local communities.

He said: “Given the current exchange rate situation, the cost of imported solar energy components, such as lithium batteries, inverters, charge controllers and panels are soaring by the day.

“This raises questions about the long-term sustainability and maintenance of these projects in the rural communities. This, therefore, calls for greater intervention by government and other stakeholders,” he concluded. Nigeria’s electricity sector have bemoaned the slow pace of growth in electricity access, especially using decentralised renewable energy solutions.

Rising from a high-level policy dialogue themed Sustainability, Inclusiveness, and Governance of Mini-grids in Africa (SIGMA), they agreed to work together to address the several challenges facing the expansion of mini-grids in the country.

The event, hosted by the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED) provided a platform to present and validate the findings from a multi-year, multi-country UK-funded research project on SIGMA.

Speaking at the programme, the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Power, Joshua Gana, said the forum provided a valuable opportunity to engage stakeholders in seeking solutions to the challenges of electricity access.

Gana underscored the critical role of collaborative efforts among government agencies, private sector entities, and local communities in fostering the successful execution of mini-grid initiatives nationwide.

He reiterated the commitment of the House of Representatives in leading legislative efforts to expanding electricity access to rural communities.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on the Environment, Senator Yunus Akintunde, emphasised the role of decentralised electricity governance in expanding energy access.

According to him, governance and institutions are key to expanding access, especially in rural areas. “A situation where all agencies responsible for electricity access are located at the federal level cannot be acceptable.

“We need electricity agencies at the local government level, just the way we have local authority over basic education and primary healthcare. This will facilitate effective governance, planning and monitoring of mini-grid development in the country,” he added.

Earlier, the Nigeria Team Leader, Ewah Eleri, expressed concern over the current scale of mini-grids in the country. Eleri pointed out that Nigeria requires at least one million five hundred new connections yearly over the next decade to close the current electricity access gap.

He said: “To meet the scale of the electricity access challenge, Nigeria needs to grow electricity supply by seven times the current available electricity. In capacity terms, we need to expand our electricity supply to 42 gigawatts, almost ten times what is available today.

“A significant amount of this component must be represented by decentralised renewable energy options. It is important that we scale up the ambition for mini-grids to help in closing the current electricity access gap,” he concluded.

While presenting the key findings of the research project, the Co-Investigator of the project in Nigeria, and lecturer at the Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law at the University of Ibadan, Temilade Sesan, pointed out that Nigeria must re-evaluate the role of market forces and government in delivering electricity access through mini-grids.

Sesan said: “Today, the technical, financial and environmental sustainability of mini-grid development in Nigeria is questionable. It is also uncertain that the benefits from the increasing interest in mini-grids are spread evenly, especially as it affects women. We therefore must recast the role of government in enabling access. That’s why governance is at the heart of delivering sustainable and equitable to mini-grids”, she emphasised.

In his remarks, the Director, Rural Electrification Fund, Anthony Akene, underscored the significance of mini-grids in powering rural communities, particularly those situated in remote and hard-to-reach areas.

However, he pointed out that the mini-grid sector continues to grapple with substantial challenges, including issues related to low-income levels and the lack of technical expertise in local communities.

He said: “Given the current exchange rate situation, the cost of imported solar energy components, such as lithium batteries, inverters, charge controllers and panels are soaring by the day.

“This raises questions about the long-term sustainability and maintenance of these projects in the rural communities. This, therefore, calls for greater intervention by government and other stakeholders,” he concluded.


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ABOUT ICEED


The International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development Foundation is committed to the goal of poverty eradication. We deliver this commitment by providing the evidence base for reforms and political influence that shape the poor's energy and climate security. ICEED has over the years of its establishment become Nigeria's leading centre on energy access and climate change. Together with some of the world's foremost resource centres, we have brought market development expertise, capacity building, project implementation and behaviour communication to Nigeria. ICEED has led some of the most important clean energy and climate change activities including the development and promotion of the Bill to Establish the National Climate Change Commission; leading the development of the Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory for Nigeria and writing the Federal Government of Nigeria's Renewable Energy Master Plan. Our key expertise is in policy reform and market development for expanding access to clean energy.

While ICEED provides the evidence base and advocacy for policy change on clean energy and climate change, the Centre is solidly on the ground changing lives through projects in communities around the country. ICEED has clean energy footprints in communities in over half of the states of the Nigerian federation.