The Bank of Industry (BoI) has said that it was ready to partner with the Ebonyi State Government on its clean energy initiative as it would have a meaningful impact on the local people and open up business activities in the area.
The bank said the partnership has become necessary as there was a high demand for solar electricity systems from all quarters of the country as a viable alternative to the eroding power supply from the national grid, adding that its medium- term vision includes the installation of solar systems through the combination of micro-grid and stand-alone solar systems in 100,000 homes in the next five years.
The acting managing director of the bank, Mr Waheed Olagunju, said this when he received in audience, the governor of Ebonyi State at the bank’s headquarters yesterday in Abuja.
Olagunju said that what the bank was implementing was a tested and commercially-sound model for delivering power to the Nigerian rural homes at affordable rates.
“The idea is that all our rural communities will take control of their energy needs by paying for only the energy they use,” he said, noting that it was a golden opportunity for rural communities in Ebonyi State to be empowered with affordable off-grid solar home systems that are operated on a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) basis rather than wait in vain for the national electricity grid.
He said the project would run for 25 years and would be effectively done so that Nigerians could benefit from it.
The BoI helmsman said that many rural communities, including Bisanti, in Katcha local government area of Niger State, Ogbekpen, Ikpoba, in Okha local government area of Edo State, Onono, Onibambu in Ife-north local government area of Osun State, Anambra West local government area of Anambra State and Kaltungo local government area of Gombe State, Charwa/Chakun, an off-grid community in Markafi local government area of Kaduna State have all benefitted from the BoI/UNDP project.
According to him, the latest request from the Ebonyi State Government was a strong indication that the bank has achieved its objective of ensuring that Nigerians were sensitised on the benefits of alternative renewable energy sources that are more efficient and cleaner. He said that solar power project was cost effective.
Furthermore, he said that the bank would partner with the Ebonyi State Government, in terms of funding, on its industrial and rice village projects, but stated that the problem of many SMEs was not access to funds but the inability of such entrepreneurs to develop and defend bankable projects. Olagunju described the neglect of capacity building by proprietors of small- scale enterprises as a major factor responsible for the frequent collapse of such businesses.
He assured that the bank would continue to invest in capacity building in the sector because the national economic development prospects of any country are hinged on the entrepreneurial energy of vibrant SMEs as most big business concerns grew from small- scale players to become big icons.
By Kingsley Alu [Leadership.ng]