From James Ojo, Abuja
The Rural Electricity Agency (REA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the Federal Government with 37 federal universities and seven teaching universities to power them with, Solar energy.
The MOU, signed over the weekend, was with the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Bayero University Kano, Usumanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.
Others are the Nnamdi Azikwe University, Anambra and the University of Lagos Akoka, Federal University of Petroleum Resources Delta, Obafemi Awolowo University and Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Osun among others.
The FG programme, according to the agency, is to energise the universities and teaching hospitals with solar power, so as to provide uninterrupted power supply for the institutions.
In all, 37 federal universities and seven teaching hospitals are to utilise the off-grid captive power plants in a bid to resolve power challenges in our institutions of higher learning.
According to the statement from the Ministry of Power, the first phase will include nine institutions, and would be completed in 2018, benefitting over 300,000 students and staff. Seven of the nine planned power plants (10.5MW out of a total of 26.56MW) will be fuelled by solar energy, in line with the Federal Government’s energy – mix policy.
Speaking on the occasion, Mrs. Anita Otubu, Head of Special Projects, Rural Electrification Agency said, “The Federal Government is keen on ensuring that its universities are at par with their international counterparts and recognizes access to power as an essential commodity to achieving this.”
On their part, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC Prof. Abubakar Rasheed said, “We must on behalf of NUC express our gratitude to REA, the Acting President and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing for this initiative. “
Also, the Vice Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Bauchi State, Prof. Abdulrahman Saminu Ibrahim stated: “I believe it has the potential to do a lot for the universities. I want to commend the stakeholders for this particular innovation.”
“We were very excited that at last we may heave a sigh of relief. So, we are happy that this programme may finally take off and our university is part of the programme from the onset” said Prof. E.I. Kucha, Vice Chancellor Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi
The solar power will also help street lighting to enhance security measures on campuses, develop and operate training centers for students’ training on renewable energy and eventually, extend this uninterrupted power to improve quality of life and economic opportunities in the surrounding rural communities.