The Federal Government, Sterling Bank and Virtus Energy Solutions Limited are into a partnership to strengthen power production for small and medium businesses in Nigeria.
The Managing Director, Rural Electrification Agency, Damilola Ogunbiyi, said the project would provide electricity access to over 80,000 shops across 16 economic clusters, empower over 340,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and also create over 2,500 jobs while serving over 18 million Nigerians.
She said, “This is a significant milestone in the financing of the Energising Economies Initiative. Since the deployment of off-grid electricity solutions at various markets across the country, we are already witnessing positive environmental and economic impacts. This is the sort of intervention we look forward to scaling across Nigeria with support from financial institutions.”
In a statement, Ogunbiyi said the FGN through the Rural Electrification Agency was implementing the EEI which supported the rapid deployment of off-grid electricity solutions to provide clean, safe, affordable and reliable electricity to economic clusters (such as market places, shopping centres, industrial facilities) through private sector developers.
The REA worked in collaboration with the USAID sponsored programme, Power Africa.
Power Africa provided technical advisory support to the initiative, which was already transforming businesses in Sabon Gari market, Ariara market, Sura shopping complex and other economic clusters with sustainable, clean and affordable power supply by increasing economic activities, spurring business growth, fostering job creation and enhancing the business experience.
The USAID/Nigeria Mission Director, Stephen Haykin, said, “Technical advisory is a key pillar of assistance Power Africa provides to Nigeria’s power sector. We are focused on ensuring initiatives like energising economies are designed and implemented with regulatory, legal, financial, transactional and project management support.”
The CBN, as part of its wider mandate towards ensuring economic development, productivity, macro-economic stability and economic diversification had shown commitment towards ensuring the successful implementation of the EEI.
Unwavering support had been secured at the Bankers Committee level to support the proliferation of decentralised energy solutions.
The statement said Sterling Bank had been an industry leader in financing off-grid energy solutions through its multi-pronged approach aimed at ensuring the delivery of projects that provided electricity to communities and businesses and had extended a five-year facility worth N446m to Virtus for the deployment of distributed energy solutions across selected economic clusters in Nigeria.
The Managing Director of Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman, said that the bank believed that the answer to power generation was a multiplicity of options.