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Thursday, 03 June 2010 10:02

World Bank to Provide U.S.$200 Million for Renewable Energy Project

By Oscarline Onwuemenyi

NIGERIA, June 3 (Vanguard) — The World Bank has said it is committing over $200 million towards the implementation of renewable energy projects in Nigeria towards enhancing access and rural electrification as part of its commitment to the nation's power sector.

The Bank's Country Director, Mr. Onno Ruhl, who disclosed this at a Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy workshop organized by the Ministry of Power and the World Bank, in Abuja, noted that all problems in the Nigerian electricity sector can not be solved by conventional sources or grid extensions.


According to him, the World Bank is committed to engaging the Nigerian governments at both Federal and state levels towards finding ways to bring electricity to "the many Nigerians who cannot be talking about having no light because they don't even have connections to their homes."


"We want to initiate technologies that would bring faster solutions; it would involve a menu of solutions for Nigeria's power problem, because one of the problems that we have in Nigeria is that so much depends on this option of generating electricity exclusively from gas-powered thermal plants and hydro-generated power," he stated.


Ruhl insisted that "The most important paradigm for accelerating growth, and reducing poverty and providing better health care and better livelihoods for Nigerians is to make sure that a lot more people have access to power."


He added that, "The World Bank is very happy to be making this significant contribution to this effort by participating in the debate and providing the needed financing.


"The most important thing to note, for us, is that the problem is so big and the opportunity is also big because many of the technologies we would be seeing have proven to be less encumbered by the challenges we have seen in traditional power generating and distribution technologies."


Ruhl noted that Nigeria's Vision 2020 calls for a rapid industrialization of the country, "not just in Lagos or Abuja or Kano or Onitsha, but in many rural areas where people can contribute to growth through various activities, especially through agriculture and agri-business."


He added that providing electricity in other ways than the grid system, would allow Nigeria to test modern green technologies that would help the country to develop a climate-friendly power system in the face of climate change problems across the globe.


"Many of the technologies for rural electrification such as hydro, wind and solar are much climate-friendly than the traditional systems of generating power."


He said the Bank was working with the Federal government and a number of the state governments to analyse prevalent conditions in the different parts of the country, with regards to different geographic and climatic conditions in the country for the successful execution of the project.


Speaking in a keynote address at the wokshop, the Minster of State for Power, Nuhu Somo Wya noted that the Federal Government was ensuring an enabling environment for integration of renewable energy based power supply and energy efficiency by removing barriers to investment and market development through a combination of robust national policies and action plans and appropriate regulatory framework in support of sustainable power development in Nigeria.


"Nigeria is facing challenges of imbalance between electricity supply and demand with attendant low access of about 40 percent in rural areas. The truth is that electricity needs cannot be met almost exclusively by fossil fuel, which currently dominates the country's energy mix, nor indiscriminate grid extension," Wya explained.


He said the common denominator of most policy proposals to pursue a sustainable energy path is an aggressive integration of renewable energy based power supply and a comprehensive energy efficiency and conservation plans.


"Nigeria is endowed with abundant energy resources at different locations within the country, which can be harnessed to generate electricity that will enhance security of supply and increase rural access to electricity services.


"It is now more evident than ever, that Nigeria needs to harness all available energy resources for electricity generation in order to improve its socio-economic performance and to achieve the aspiration of being in the league of the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020," Wya stated.


He explained that the rural access to Renewable Energy Project is one of a series of projects being undertaken by the World Bank, which is aimed at creating a tremendous impact on the development of the nation's power sector.


Wya further noted that the Federal government was equally focused on building an institutional framework that would encourage and strengthen state governments' participation in renewable energy and rural electrification projects.




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