Solar energy booms as power crisis worsens

The government of France, through the French Development Agency/Agence Francaise de Developement (AFD), has agreed to invest $70 million into renewable energy projects in Nigeria.

This is according to Mr Chukwudumije Igwe, Member, Project and Structured Finance, Sub Sahara Africa, Access Bank, at the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy Finance (SUNREF) Nigeria programme investor conference on Thursday in Lagos.

According to Igwe, the $70 million fund will be disbursed to renewable energy stakeholders through Access Bank Plc and United Bank for Africa (UBA).

Igwe disclosed that the fund would be used to boost investment into Nigeria’s renewable energy space and help fight pollution, adding that SUNREF was committed to sponsoring projects that were innovative, energy-efficient and renewable in the continent.

“SUNREF is a fund that has been made available by AFD to back renewable and energy-efficient projects,” he said

“Access bank is one of the disbursing banks and we are looking forward to reviewing and accessing projects that meet eligibility and also the risk criteria.

“The total size of the fund is 70 million U.S dollars and has been shared between Access Bank and UBA and we are looking for eligible projects to disburse this fund to.

“We know that a lot of the SUNREF project are power and renewable projects and we know how critical infrastructure is to Nigeria and the federal government cannot do it alone.

“The private sector is key and we also know that bridging this gap would involve private sector and development finance institutions.

“This is why this is very critical and we hope that the fund would bridge a whole lot of the nation’s infrastructure gap,” he said.

Team Lead, SUNREF Nigeria, Mr Javier Betancourt, stated that the 70 million U.S dollars was largely not enough, but a start because what Nigeria needed was in billions, adding that over 80 million people in Nigeria were completely un-electrified while the remaining 100 million were somewhat electrified.

“The investment needed is enormous and $70 million does not even begin to cover it, but it does help start things” he said.

“This fund we are bringing in will be longer terms with minimum of five years and these are concessional lending rates which would help to finance these projects.”

He added that it would be difficult to approximate the exact amount the country needed for the renewable sector to bridge the nation’s energy gap, but stated that Nigeria needed another 14GW of energy, an investment of about $10 billion in total.

“$70 million is a drop in the ocean, but it is an important drop because it will help move this sector to get the appropriate finance,” he said.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otuba Adeniyi Adebayo, added that the rapid population growth and increase in industrial activities had led to a significant increase in energy consumption, resulting in increase in environmental pollution and economic difficulties.

“Renewable energy provides assess to alternative sources of energy that are more sustainable and reduce dependence on fossil fuels,” he said

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