The Solar energy option for Nigeria

solarAs electricity consumers continue to grapple with epileptic power supply by the electricity distribution companies (DisCos), many consumers are gradually embracing the solar energy option through the SolarNigeria programme.

The programme funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (UKAID) has provided solar energy to 49,000 homes across the country since the beginning of this year. The initiative is an innovative programme that helps solar suppliers and financiers scale up and allow households to access this equipment on full commercial terms.

To further get to more homes, the UKAID has approved additional £16.7 million for the programme to help scale the market for solar home lighting and power in Nigeria through to 2020, enabling millions of Nigerian households to experience reliable power for the very first time.

Genevieve Bosah, Communication Manager, Solar­Nigeria, says “these homes now enjoy bright light and reliable power at lower cost than kerosene and generators.” She notes that more than 14,000 of the homes benefitting are in Nigeria’s northern states, where grid deficiencies and the need for reliable power are the most acute. “All systems were accessed on full commercial terms, with the householder paying cash, taking a loan, or renting the equipment,” Bosah says.

She explains that the boost represents a dramatic increase in Nigeria’s household solar market. In 2015, the estimated total market was around 130,000 units. Between January and March 2016, new homes connected as a result of the SolarNigeria initiative have already matched over 40 percent of that total. “This was achieved despite the significant challenges of limited access to foreign exchange for importing solar, and the overall declining economic conditions in the country. These high quality plug-and-play solar systems include everything from single bright lamps through to Solar Home Systems able to power multiple lights, a television and fan,” she adds.

The solar systems were provided to Nigerian households by companies supported by the SolarNigeria Programme. The aim of the SolarNigeria Programme is to scale up the private market for small solar lighting and power systems. SolarNigeria will help millions of Nigerian households (and micro-enterprises) to access modern, clean, lighting and power at lower cost than kerosene lanterns and small generators.

SolarNigeria is helping capable solar vendors and financiers to rapidly expand their capacity to reach consumers with financed solar solutions. Pilot programmes in 2015 provided capacity building grants of £1.5 million to 16 companies. In 2016, a financing pilot will provide £0.5 million in grants to mobilise the provision of commercial finance into the value chain for household scale solar light and power systems.

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