Govt to use solar energy production to boost employment  

Oscarline Onwuemenyi 24 September 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) has announced government’s plans to use solar energy to boost employment generation for thousands of youth in the country.

Linde solar power plant-South Africa.

Speaking recently at a solar energy system training, NDE Director-General Mallam Abubakar Mohammed said the agency had been involved in environmental scanning to address  unemployment over the years.

He said one of the steps taken was the training of youths in renewable energy, specifically solar energy system, due to the energy crisis confronting Nigeria as a nation.
“Renewable energy refers to energy sources like solar, hydro, wind, biomass and geothermal. This energy source is very attractive because, it is non-depletable and inexhaustible, and available on periodic or cyclic basis.
“Energy service is desired and useful in products, processes or indeed services that result from the use of energy, such as for lighting, provision of air-conditioning, indoor climate, refrigerator storage, transportation and appropriate temperature for cooking,” he said.
According to Mohammed, who was represented at the occasion by the Director, Small Scale Enterprise, Mr. Kunle Obayan, the energy chain to deliver the services begins with the collection or extraction of primary energy, which is converted into energy carriers suitable for various end users.
He said although Nigeria needs adequate supply of energy to drive its economy and power its domestic, economic, technological and social sectors, it has however been difficult to meet the energy needs of the citizenry by successive governments.
“The above informed the decision of the management to approve the training in renewable energy such as solar, not only because of the inherent advantages it has over other sources of energy, but because of the employment potential.
“We are encouraged that this source of energy is capable of generating employment in geometrical proportions, in the design, harvesting, installation and maintenance,” he said.
The NDE boss also stated that the directorate had produced 950 technicians in 19 states of the federation, adding 50 were resettled in Ilorin, Kwara State out of the 100 unemployed youths who were trained while another 50 were resettled in Akure, Ondo State, out of the 61 persons trained.
According to Mohammed, “It is a known fact that over 70 percent of Nigerians are living in the rural areas, a larger percentage of which have no access to national grid-supplied electricity; the high cost of grid extension to such areas and widespread of rural communities, combine to make rural electrification by means of renewable energy attractive.”
He also appealed to governments at all levels to patronise this crop of professionals who have been certified competent to undertake maintenance of existing installations, deploy and install new solar system, especially  in the rural areas.
“As renewable energy technology applications in the developing countries are attracting increased interest and financial support from the donor community, it is recommended that the government of Nigeria develop financial instruments that specifically target renewable energy technologies and stimulate market to attract investments.
“There is also the need for deliberate collaboration between various governments and the NDE for definite capacity  building both at the institutional and personnel levels for acquiring technical, organisational and managerial skills required for increased development of renewable energy,” he said
According to him, the NDE was willing to work closely with the state governments to tackle unemployment in the land. He appealed to all unemployed youths to take advantage of the various job generating efforts of the directorate at the various skills acquisition centres, to acquire new skills and become self-sufficient.
Also explaining how renewable energy can generate employment, Chief Executive Officer, ShineLite Limited, Mr. Olubunmi Oluwadare said many jobs can be created through renewable energy, specifically through the installation and running of solar energy.
He said, “There is an angle we call solar for jobs. It is a project that is targeting youth employment and we hope it’s going to work because our partners had done it in Asia and it created a lot of jobs for youths.
“Since our project is a compact one, what we are looking at for instance, is if government gives us one thousand street lighting, or a perimetre of airport to put all in one solar light, what we are going to do is to offer training for the engineers that will install the solar street lights and we assign like 100 poles for each to manage and maintain, we can generate about 500 to 1000 jobs. How are we going to do it?
“We can tailor 10 poles to each youth, you install, maintain and we train you. It’s your job to make sure that these 10 street poles are functioning. You oversee it. And it must be within the community we are running the project. It’s not a big deal for us to do since we can train them, they would be the ones to oversee the maintenance.
“If my own is 20, I will know I’m overseeing 20 street lights and those lights must not go off and if any other problem arises I will be the one to alert the authority and they would be able to fix it, and I will also acquire knowledge to fix the fuse or clean the panel, among others. These are the areas we are looking at to create employment opportunities for our youths.
“For example, if there are 80 utility-scale solar energy projects that represent about 56,000 megawatts of new electric power, it will mean creating about 20,000 permanent jobs,” he said
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