Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun has said his government is committed to improving electric power supply in the rural areas.
He made this submission at the opening of a training workshop on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Framework for Rural Electricity Mini-grids organised by German Agency for International Corporation (GIZ) in collaboration with the State Government in Abeokuta.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Chief (Mrs.) Yetunde Onanuga, Amosun said “the daunting challenge of poor electric supply in this nation cannot but be emphasised here. Nigeria with a population of about 170 million people, and an estimated power requirement of at least 14,000 megawatts, still struggles to produce 4,000 megawatts. This wide supply gap makes many industrial establishments run their plants on an uneconomical scale, underutilising their installed capacities. Many have to make it up, using petrol or diesel-powered generators, thereby groping under the heavy burdens of very high production cost.
“The implication of this are obvious, and the consequences in terms of high unemployment rates, high prices of finished goods, inability of many of these goods to compete in the market with imported alternatives. The rural communities suffer a lot from the inadequacy of power as a vast majority of them cannot connect to the national grid, due to high cost of doing so,” he stated.
Amosun disclosed that much of his government’s efforts at providing power for the state’s citizens have so far been through investments focused on extending the national grid, noting however that “this approach may make it difficult for government to realise her sincere objectives on rural electrification.
“It has become virtually imperative to consider mini-grids as options. Even at that, it is not going to be feasible for government to invest her lean, hard-earned public resources in pursing such an agenda. This is why partnership with the private sector becomes a panacea,” he pointed out.
The governor however expressed the belief that partnering the private sector helps government to stretch her little resources over wider horizon, in bringing electric power to rural communities, adding that “this will not only help raise the standard of living of the people.
“It will equally create vast employment opportunities in the rural areas, as well as transform the rural economies in particular, and contribute significantly to achieving the state’s industrialisation agenda and ultimately contribute to the transformation of the state economy,” he stressed.
The National Adviser for the Mini-grid project under GIZ, Engineer Olumide Fatoki, in his address, noted that GIZ is currently carrying out energy efficiency and rural electrification in Rivers, Plateau, Cross River, Sokoto and Ogun states, adding that data management system, access to sustainable energy vis-a-vis rural electrification planning are the key areas the GIZ is offering its support.
He said the workshop was to strengthen the existing collaboration between the GIZ and the state government, with a view to ensuring that it internalises the knowledge gained to improve rural electrification in the state.