Nigerian firms win $400,000 in Africa off-grid energy contest

21 October 2014, Lagos – Four Nigerian companies have emerged winners of the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge sponsored by General Electric (GE), the U.S. Africa Development Foundation (USADF) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Each of the companies received a grant of $100,000.

The companies, are Ginphed Nigeria Limited, Quintas Renewable Energy Solutions, Sky Resources and Topstep Nigeria, all submitted entries on how renewable energy resources can be deployed to power socio-economic activities within communities in Nigeria that are not connected to the country’s national grid. The Nigerian companies joined 18 other grant winners from Liberia, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya. Over 300 entries were received across the continent.

Wilson offgrid solar grillGinphed Nigeria, a company based in Cross River state, caught the eye of the judges with its innovative solution to the Ginphed Farm’s energy needs. By constructing a bio-digester to convert animal manure into biogas to be used for electricity generation, for cottage industries in the surrounding communities, Ginphed successfully is putting an end to the electricity challenge of that community.

Quintas Renewable Energy Solutions is solving the challenge of access to grid energy in the Ofosu community of Ondo State, which lacks access to grid electricity, but has a strong local farming industry. The company plans to develop a 500 kilowatt biomass power plant which will take advantage of the community’s agricultural and forestry residue, including sawdust from the four area sawmills that currently rely on expensive diesel for power. The new power plant will include a steam turbine, generator, and gasifier with a combustor, and the electricity will be paid for through pre-paid meters.

On its part, Sky Resources Ltd, is promoting renewable energy technologies for the Nawgu community of Anambra State through a solar-powered micro grid. The community is not connected to the national electricity grid and grid extension is unlikely for some time. Subscribers to this innovative power solution in the community will pay on a per-use basis. Over 75 micro- businesses are expected to benefit from this initiative, and the $100,000 grant could extend the number of beneficiaries even further.

Topstep Nigeria, with its focus on renewable energy and energy conservation, is catering for the needs of Babban Gona Agricultural Franchise in Kaduna state. Babban Gona Agricultural Franchise is a 2,000 member strong farmer cooperative located in the Makarfi and Ikara Local Government Areas of Kaduna State. In order for the member farmers to increase their income, they need to increase market value of their produce by adding value to their produce through post-harvest processing. Currently, they do not have access to reliable electricity. Topstep is addressing this constraint by expanding the current solar maize mill processing station. The project is increasing the existing processing capacity to 1,400 metric tons of maize per year by installing 5 processing stations located near the farmers’ fields. Each station will have 3 high quality milling machines powered by solar energy and portable batteries charged and available for farmers to use at their homes for a fee.

Speaking at the elaborate event, held in Lagos recently the U.S ambassador to Nigeria James F. Entwistle commended GE and partners for taking practical efforts to bring the power Africa initiative to life on the continent. He said the fact that some communities are already benefitting from this effort in Nigeria and Kenya was very fulfilling for the U.S government. The ambassador called on the winners to make judicious use of the $100,000 grant in impacting on their respective communities.

GE Africa’s Global Supply Chain Leader, Mr. Phil Griffith said GE was very impressed with the quality of the projects and the thinking that has gone into them. “This further validates our belief that adequate investment in human capital is a key driver of socio-economic growth anywhere in the world.”

For her part, the President/CEO of the United States Africa Development Foundation (USADF) Shari Berenbach said “USADF is pleased to be supporting economic growth at the grassroots level, by addressing the energy poverty that many communities face. These grants represent the innovation and ‘can do’ attitude of Nigerian renewable energy ventures that is spurring on growth across the country.”
*Daily Independent

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