By Ekemini Simon
The Akwa Ibom State Government says it has earmarked 25 communities across the state to benefit from solar powered mini-grid.
The State Government said it tapped into the World Bank/ Rural Electrification Agency (REA) for the Nigeria Electrification Programme which focuses on investment in renewable energy.
Briefing newsmen in Uyo on Thursday, January 13, 2022, the State Commissioner, Ministry of Power and Petroleum Development, Dr. John Etim noted that work has already started in Ini local government to build a mini grid that will supply solar powered electricity to the communities there.
It could be recalled that the Federal Government, through its implementing agency, the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), had signed grant agreements with seven renewable energy investors under the World Bank-funded Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP).
The agreements are Output-Based Fund (OBF) for the sale of solar home systems to homes and businesses across the country, while Performance-Based Grant (PBG) is for the deployment of mini-grids to un-served and underserved communities.
The Commissioner pointed out that the gesture by the State Government is geared towards connecting the 2,274 gazetted villages of the State to the national grid thus preparing the State for the actualization of the Power-for-All Initiative of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration.
He explained that already, the State Government had attained 94 percent in the connection of the 2,274 gazetted villages to the national grid adding that the feat was attained through the diligence and committed support of the Governor, who took particular interest in the power sector.
He assured that the remaining communities yet to be connected will soon be connected, so they can join the league of communities with public power.
While noting that Governor Emmanuel’s administration has worked hard to achieve the Power-for-All goal, he offered insight to the fact that the initiative has three key foundations, namely: connection of villages to the national grid, metering solutions, which involves the provision of prepaid meters, and network optimisation.
Dr. Etim said these foundations were to serve as catalysts to birth the power revolution, with the potential of providing an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, and lifting many from poverty.
On the strides so far made in the metering solution, the Commissioner stated ” The Governor Udom Emmanuel-led administration has achieved applaudable success in providing prepaid meters for installation in key residential clusters. Under the pilot scheme, the Akwa Ibom State Government had earmarked 32,000 units of prepaid meters for installation in homes and businesses, commencing in the metropolitan area of the state. So far, 12,000 units have been distributed and installed.
” We are also expecting additional units of meters from the Federal Government through the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) due to the goodwill and the good relationship our Governor and his lieutenants have maintained with the Government at the center. However, these meters will be provided through PHEDC.”
Commenting on network optimisation, Dr. Etim said the efforts of the present administration to optimize the current power network have been geared towards the continuous servicing, repairs, maintenance, and installation of major injection substations, distribution transformers, armored cables, feeder pillars, electric poles, and other capital-intensive power-related infrastructure.
He added “The Ministry of Power and Petroleum Development, under Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, constantly receives complaints about failed or damaged power systems. In response, the ministry, with the support of the Governor, intervenes through repairs and replacements of power equipment and accessories, as the need arises.
“To give a little more detail, the Akwa Ibom State Government has approved, released and installed over 470 Distribution Transformers all over the 31 LGAs. The State Government has constructed over 100km of both 33KV HT networks and 11KV HT networks all over the State, completed the installations of hundreds of Feeder Pillars, and rehabilitation of over 300 distribution transformer substations.
” Our investments in the key power infrastructures like the Ekim Power Station, the Nwaniba Substation and our master stroke feat in the running of dedicated lines to service key institutions like the Ibom Icon Hotel, Victor Attah International Airport, Ibom Specialist Hospital, and the Dakkada Luxury Estate among others, have become a model to many states and seriously reduced the frustration these institutions experienced as a result of epileptic power supply.”
The Commissioner assured that the State Government will continue to advocate for more meters to be made available for both private and commercial customers. He said when that is done, it will inch Akwa Ibom closer to her target of making affordable power available for all citizens of the State.
He called on citizens to protect power infrastructure in their vicinity, ensure prompt payment of consumption charges and meter their subscription, to avoid estimated billing.
Dr. Etim noted that while the State Government is engaging the distribution company PHEDC, they are also exploring other means of ensuring that Akwa Ibom State can have uninterrupted power in the near future.