It was yet another major boost for the education sector. On Tuesday September 3, the largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant in Africa was commissioned at the Bayero University, Kano (BUK).
It was a project done on the platform of the Energising Education Programme (EEP) being implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), a Federal Government initiative. Officials of the agency asserted that the project was done to improve education and research, and create a more enabling academic environment for learning.
It was, indeed, a significant event, with hundreds of students and other members of the academia in a euphoric mood.
It was gathered that with the unveiling, as many as 55, 815 students and 3, 077 staff of the institution now have access to electricity supply from the university’s 7.1MW solar hybrid power project.
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) is the implementing agency of the Federal Government saddled with electrification of “unserved and underserved communities.” The Energising Education Programme (EEP) is an initiative of the Federal Government with the aim of providing sustainable and clean power supply to 37 federal universities and seven university teaching hospitals across the country.
The project includes the provision of an independent power plant, upgrading existing distribution infrastructure, street lighting to improve security within the universities’ campuses, and the development of a world class training centre on renewable energy for each university. The programme is being implemented in three phases and funded by the Federal Government, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
Bayero University, Kano is the second project to be commissioned under Phase 1 of EEP expected to deliver clean and sustainable energy using solar hybrid and gas-fired captive power plants.
The REA had, on Friday August 2, commissioned a 2.8 megawatts solar hybrid power plant at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (FUNAI) in Ebonyi State also under the EEP.
The Bayero University commissioning included the launch of an 11.4 kilometre of street-lighting as well as a world-class renewable training centre. Another feature of the event was the graduation of 20 female students who participated in the Female STEM Students Internship Programme. The students had been given practical training during the course of the project construction. They were given certificates of completion.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who unveiled the BUK power plant, said the programme upholds the Federal Government’s adherence to global best practices in the provision of cleaner sources of energy.
Osinbajo, while listing the benefits of the project, stated: “The installed 7.1MW decentralized solar hybrid power plant funded by the FGN green bond will supply over 58,000 students and staff with clean, safe and reliable electricity. I am sure that the entire student body, management and staff of Bayero University are proud to be beneficiaries of this, most especially as the only Federal University in Kano State and one of the longest standing ones. As a result, students can now focus on their academics and vocational training in a safer and illuminated environment.
“This significant initiative upholds the Federal Government of Nigeria’s adherence to global best practice, as we transition to cleaner sources of energy in line with the. These projects being implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) are strategic to fulfilling our commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as they strive to reduce Nigeria’s carbon footprint. The leveraging of renewable energy technologies is in line with the Federal Government mandate and related activities. Nigeria’s plans to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent unconditionally and 45 per cent with international support by 2030 aims to limit the damaging effects of climate change.
“Our ultimate goal under the Energizing Education Programme is to increase access to modern technical education in safe and illuminated learning environments, empower the girl child, and create jobs in the power sector value chain, among others.
“Thus far, this project created 182 energy related jobs from power system engineers to electricians as well as trained 20 young female STEM students with the skills to contribute to strengthening our energy sector. It is initiatives like these that create the impact for Nigeria’s socio-economic growth.”
Osinbajo commended the Ministries of Power and Environment for their policies and their implementations. He also applauded the university management, the METKA contractor as well as the Rural Electrification Agency and its managing director, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi.
Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, was equally excited. Mamman, an engineer and a BUK alumnus, said he was proud to be a part of the programme.
He noted: “The Ministry’s power policy specifically targets education to ensure that all federal universities, to begin with, have access to reliable electricity. Notably, the Energizing Education Programme was designed to involve students from project inception for project sustainability. I am delighted to be back at my alma mater as we commission the 7.1MW solar hybrid power plant, world class workshop and training centre and solar powered streetlights under the Energizing Education Programme (EEP). It was just years ago that I was a student here without access to reliable electricity. So, it is particularly heart-warming for me to be here for this commissioning. This is a major achievement and an important step in scaling up our mandate to bring reliable and affordable power to homes, schools, hospitals communities and economic clusters across Nigeria.
The minister commended the graduating 20 participants in the Female STEM Internship Programme. He urged them to be focused on their newly acquired skills. He also congratulated the REA management team under the leadership of Damilola Ogunbiyi for their commitment.
Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency, Damilola Ogunbiyi, said she was delighted to commission another project under the Energizing Education Programme (EEP) at Bayero University, Kano (BUK).
“The EEP project at BUK is the second to be commissioned as we recently commissioned the first project – a 2.8MW solar hybrid plant at Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi State on August 2 this year. This particular project here at Bayero University, with an installed capacity of 7.1MW, is the largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant in Africa. I am proud to say that the education sector is already reaping benefits from the installation of solar hybrid power plants across the country.
“I must reiterate here that the Ministry of Power has focused on nurturing this emerging off-grid sector with the right policy initiatives aimed at providing access to power across Nigeria in rural communities, economic hubs and the federal universities and university teaching hospitals.
“Under my leadership, the Rural Electrification Agency’s mandate under the Energizing Education Programme is clear. To provide clean, reliable, safe and sustainable electricity to selected federal universities and teaching hospitals. We must rehabilitate existing electricity distribution infrastructure, illuminate university campuses for improved security and construct renewable energy training centres.
“Another important component of this project is the Female STEM Internship Programme, where 20 BUK female students received training in the design and construction of the solar hybrid power plant. Under the tutelage of the solar developer, these women received hands-on field and classroom training through the course of this project’s implementation.”
She commended President Buhari for initiating the programme while lauding the federal ministries of power and environment for their support. She also expressed gratitude to her team at the REA team for their contributions.
Kano State governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, said his government would continue to foster technical and practical training. He said the EEP was strategically aligned with the state’s job creation and capacity building objectives.
He praised the Rural Electrification Agency for its dedication in ensuring the project was delivered at full capacity.
“Now our students can study round the clock without fear of power failure or insecurity within the university campus, thanks to the reliable electricity and installation of streetlights across the campus. This is a testament to the Buhari administration’s Next Level Roadmap. which is delivering results through best practice infrastructure development.
“This is an absolute privilege for the student body and management of Bayero University Kano, especially as one of the oldest federal universities in Nigeria and I am grateful it was earmarked to benefit from the Energising Education Programme.
“I commend this initiative of the federal government because energising education is energizing the youth and once the youth are energized, you are de-energising armed robbery, bandits, kidnapping, etc. There is no doubt that it will have a multiplier effect on the social economic system and will provide a conducive environment for the academic community. The STEM training facilitated by REA has impacted our female students and erased the notion that women are not good in technical education. This has boosted their morale to see themselves as being capable in any field.”
Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Muhammad Yahuza Bello said he was delighted that history was being made at BUK.
“The Federal Government’s EEP project could not have been implemented at a better time for BUK. Over 55,000 students and 3,000 staff will now experience teaching, learning and research in a more conducive and safer environment with access to clean and reliable electricity. The Energizing Education Programme supports BUK’s mission to address developmental challenges in Nigeria, through cutting-edge research, knowledge transfer and training. This is a joyous moment for not just our university, but also for Kano State, Nigeria’s second largest industrial centre. I am very excited at the expected positive impact this initiative will have in transforming the way we teach learn, and live on our campus. It is also exciting that under the EEP, students will be responsible for the project’s sustainability, thanks to the technical and practical training our students received through construction,” he said.
Mr Evangelos Kamari, Managing Director, METKA West Africa Limited, the contractors that handled the project, also noted: “The state-of-the-art solar hybrid power plant will result in carbon dioxide savings of 108,875,120Ibs, a feat we as green contractors are proud of.”