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More on the Rural Electrification Fund

More on the Rural Electrification Fund

Posted By Admin    on 20th Dec 2019   

We live in an age where access to electricity is necessary for survival and achieving economic growth. Thus, nations across the world steadily seek ways to ensure that more citizens have access to sustainable energy. This, of course, is with special focus on unserved and underserved rural communities.

In Nigeria, where access to electricity for urban communities is about 50%, and access to rural communities is less than 50% (according to the World Bank), the need for clean and affordable electricity remains a critical factor for sustainable development. This need formed the basis for the development of a programme such as the Rural Electrification Fund (REF).

REF is a programme developed by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), which bears the responsibility of improving energy access to electricity-deficient rural areas in Nigeria. The programme has been working to deploy solutions using renewable energy technology via solar home systems, mini-grids, and inter-connected mini-grids to communities across the country. The nature, model, and structure of project deployment has varied based on available resources and technologies best suited to Nigeria’s current socio-economic realities.

The impact of REF projects is a clear indication of its capacity and ability to develop and deploy projects that meet the energy demands of the populace. Several projects have been initiated and commissioned, most of which are in the final stages of completion. These include 12 mini-grids and 14 Solar Home Systems (SHS). The projects are expected to meet a diverse and competitive geopolitical spread, incorporate a cost-reflective tariff structure, and meet minimum financing requirements.

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Through The Fund, the government has commissioned three projects in 2019:

  • 80kW solar mini-grid in Kogi,
  • 8kW solar-hybrid mini-grid in Kebbi, and
  • 100kW solar mini-grid in Akwa Ibom.

Despite the positives, The Fund still suffers major constraints in poor financing, weakness of regulation, and resource scarcity.