By Adewale Sanyaolu
The Federal Government has commenced the implementation of its renewable energy policy with the connection of about 450 shops at the popular Iponri Market in Lagos with solar power.
Speaking at an inspection tour of the off-grid facility powered by solar at the Iponri Market at the weekend, Minister of Power Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said the connection of the shops to solar energy was a commitment to President Muhammadu Buhari’s ease of doing business.
Fashola said the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) ,remained the fulcrum of growth for any economy because their activities have multipliers effects, especially at the base level.
The Minister said the construction of the mini grid facility at Iponri market would save the traders millions of naira expended in fuelling generating sets which he said, are not environmentally friendly due to carbon emission and noise pollution.
‘‘Before now, the traders at this market only had two choices; the grid and generating sets. But from my interaction with some of them today, I have been told that they have dumped their generators in exchange for the solar.
With this solar initiative, the administration of Buhari has been able to affect the lives of ordinary Nigerians who have had to part with millions of naira to fuel their generators.
He said no government in the past has ever taken a conscious step to reach out to traders in a bid to alleviate their sufferings and help reduce their cost of doing business, adding that this category of Nigerians are in their large numbers helping to grow the economy and should not be neglected.
For her part, the Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency, Damilola Ogunbiyi, the initiator of the solar project under its Energising Economies Initiative (EEI), explained that the vacuum created by the grid system informed the decision of REA to move into urban cities and help improve power supply through partnership with private investors. She said the EEI is a Federal Government initiative that supports the rapid deployment of off-grid electricity solutions to provide clean, safe affordable and reliable electricity to economic clusters across Nigeria through private developers.
Already, she said EEI already launched three pilot projects to electrify 50,000 shops in Sabon Gari Market (Kano State) Ariara Market (Abia State) and Sura Shopping Complex (Lagos), adding that the initiative has delivered electricity to 1,047 shops at the Sura Market.
Ogunbiyi disclosed that about 450 shops in Iponri market are currently metered and energized while the rest of the shops will be completed later in the year.
According to her, the Iponri market is being electrified by high capacity solar standalone systems installed across the market with an on-site state- of-the-art customer service shop managed by the private developer.
On the role of the private developer-Iponri Market Energy Solutions Limited (IMESL) is responsible for funding, construction, operations and maintenance of the off-grid solar energy solution.
The firm is, also to provide Iponri marketthrough the deployment of world-class solar stand-alone systems technology within hubs across the market