08 July 2014, Abuja – The federal government has said that its recent initiative aimed at providing off-grid electricity supply to rural communities across the country will soon go into the next implementation phase.
Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo who spoke through his special assistant on renewable energy, Dr. Albert Okorogu recently in Abuja, stated that the next phase of the rural electrification project tagged “Operation Light up Rural Nigeria” is expected to be implemented in partnership with indigenous investors in renewable energy sources.
The Operation Light up Rural Nigeria is an off-grid electrification project initiated by the government to provide solar power to rural communities across the country. President Goodluck Jonathan had launched the pilot scheme of the programme in three rural communities within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) some months back.
Okorogu however stated that the project would be expanded to include private sector financing in the next phase which is planned to capture a good number of rural communities across the country.
He explained that the pilot projects are to be replicated in all senatorial zones of the country.
“The Operation Light up Rural Nigeria Project is still very much on course. We are currently partnering with local or indigenous investors to ensure speedy execution of the electrification programme.
It is the vision of Mr. President to provide steady power to all Nigerians wherever anyone finds himself. The entire electrification project which has been embarked upon is receiving prompt attention. There is no way one will say we are slow, that’s not the true picture of what is happening,” Okorogu stated.
He further explained: “At the moment, rural communities which are not connected to the national grid are being identified for solar-powered-electricity. I expect that such communities should contact us so that they will be captured as well, in case any of them feel they are left behind.”
Meanwhile, the ministry of power has announced the initiation of a presidential scheme called the National Power Sector Apprenticeship Scheme (NAPSA).
The ministry noted that the new scheme was envisioned to train artisans, lines men, cable joiners, fitters and machinists on requisite skills needed in Nigeria’s emerging power sector.
Nebo was quoted to have told stakeholders in Nigeria’s power sector comprising of plant owners, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and other key actors that the qualitative skills needed to run a modern power sector were currently lacking in Nigeria.
He also acknowledged the urgent need to find well-trained replacements for retired or outgoing personnel in the country’s power sector; the retiring workforce are estimated to be about 90 per cent of the current workforce in the sector.
While disclosing that the scheme will be implemented on the platform of the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), Nebo further stated that it will be spread across the states of the federation to be able to accommodate a good number of youths that could be interested in it.