Nigeria Moves Towards Indigenous Solar Panel Production

According to Nigerian National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure Director-General Olusegun Adewoye, about 40 rural information technology centers established by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NASEI), will be powered by photovoltaic solar panels manufactured in Nigeria, a first for Africa.

Towards that end, Nigeria’s NASEI has established a 7.5 megawatt joint venture solar panel manufacturing plant in Karshi, Abuja.

Adewoye told reporters, “The National Information Technology Development Agency is setting up internet centers all over the country and we are expecting in three or two days an award to power 40 of those rural internet centers with our solar panels. This is something they would have imported from somewhere else.”

A NASEI source speaking off the record disclosed that NASEI would be a major supplier for power equipment in the Rural Information Technology Centers (RITCs), commenting, “They will be our major supplier. The National Information Technology Development Agency has inspected their plant and they have tendered (for provision contracts). With the solar panels, we will be assured of constant power supply there. Despite the fact that we are not in the same ministry, there is still high synergy between us.”

According to NASEI Director-General Cleopas Angaye, the agency’s agenda in promoting solar power was not only to furnish impoverished rural communities with electricity in order to provide them with an increased standard of living, but also to allow them access to relevant Internet information that could change their lives while providing social, professional and economic opportunities for people living in rural areas.

Angaye commented, “The agency through the rural information technology centers aims to facilitate rapid socio- economic growth through access to Information Communications and Technology facilities, eradicate computer illiteracy and increase the level of understanding of the value of Information Communications and Technology among all communities especially the rural areas. It will provide a platform for delivering e-government services and facilitating the achievement of the millennium development goals.”

Adewoye added that apart from powering the RITCs, the solar panel manufacturing plant would be useful for domestic purposes, street lighting, water pumping for irrigation purposes, powering electrical repeater stations and telecommunication boosting stations as well as powering local traffic lights.

Nigeria’s central government also has ambitious Internet plans, as NASEI intends to collaborate with the 36 state governments to provide Internet access and computer centers throughout the nation’s 774 local governments.

In August 2010 President Goodluck Jonathan launched Nigeria’s Power Sector Reform Roadmap, stating, “In the same way that reforms in the telecommunications sector paved the way for the benefits that we all enjoy today, we believe that with diligent implementation and meticulous application of what this Roadmap provides, we will see an end to the chronic electric power supply shortages we know too well, and witness the birth of a modern, efficient, customer-focused, private sector-driven electricity supply industry. We have the will. This Roadmap shows the way.”

Last month Kaduna State Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa attended the groundbreaking of a 50 megawatt Solar Farm in Kaduna, which is being developed by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment in partnership with Synergent Power Share Nigeria Limited. The Kaduna Solar Farm is the first in Nigeria. At the Kaduna Solar Farm inauguration Yakowa thanked Nigerian Minister of Environment Hadeja Ibrahim Malafia for his support, saying, “Let me thank you for this 50 megawatt solar farm that is going to be built here. I thank you also for the assurance that this is going to be done within record time and that the neighboring communities in the Igebi local government area will immediately begin to benefit. What we are supposed to do as a state is to provide the enabling environment for projects like this to take off. And we are committed towards that.”

Nigerian Minister of Environment Malaifa commented, “I am saying that the Kaduna project upon completion is going to supply so much electricity that even institutions and government establishments will have surplus energy. Additionally, the project will qualify as a CDM (Kyoto Protocols Clean Development Mechanism) project eligible for carbon credits, which Kaduna State would qualify for and in effect earn income on it.”

National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure Director-General Adewoye added that, apart from powering the RITCs, the Karshi solar panel manufacturing plant’s products would be useful for domestic purposes, including street lighting, water pumping for irrigation purposes, powering repeater stations, telecommunication boosting stations and powering traffic lights.

While Abuja is investigating renewable energy in an effort to solve Nigeria’s endemic electricity shortages, it is also investigating more contentious roads to resolve its energy dilemma. On 3 November Nigeria’s United Nations Deputy Envoy BukunOlu Onemola said that the introduction of nuclear-powered electricity remained a major priority of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

In this case, one can only hope that the sun triumphs over the atom.

By John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com

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