The federal government of Nigeria is set to sign up for a solar energy partnership with the UK government to bring greater access to electricity to the African country’s residents, according to a Nigerian government release.
Nigerian vice president Yemi Osinbajo flew to London from Abuja to participate in the launch of the Energy Africa Campaign and to sign the commitment today.
Around 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are currently without electricity access, which accounts for 70% of its population.
As part of a wider UK government initiative to bring more power to Africa, the new UK and Nigeria partnership plans to bring solar power to millions of homes in Nigeria. This will be based on a model of installation and payment that has already worked successfully in Kenya and Tanzania.
Anthony Ighodaro, chair, African Renewable Energy Alliance (AREA), told PV Tech that six countries, represented by various ministers were present at the launch to sign similar agreements including Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.
He added that there are number of compacts that have been drafted with respect to the different countries, which are likely to include policy measures that are mainly related to solar
Solar is the choice energy resource because vast rural areas of Africa have no realistic chance of being connected to the grid for decades and off-grid applications are less expensive, said the UK department for international development (DFID).
PV panels have dramatically fallen in price, with imporved battery technology and more efficient appliances such as lightbulbs. Common access to mobile payments also allows access to to energy via micro- pay-as-you-go schemes.
A DFID statement said: “We want to accelerate the development of the emerging solar market in Africa. Together with African governments, investors, businesses, NGOs, think tanks and other donors, DFID will work to increase investment in off-grid energy firms, overcome regulatory barriers, foster innovation, and accelerate delivery of solar energy systems to households across Africa.”
The wider campaign aims to help Africa achieve universal energy access 2030, because it will take until 2080 for universal electricity access on the continent at the current trajectory, according DFID.
At present half of sub-Saharan African businesses claim poor electricity access constrains their business, and power outages costs the region 1-2% of its GDP annually, said DFID.
Osinbajo will speak at the Energy Africa Campaign launch alongside the UK minister for international development, Grant Shapps, and the former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as well as other leaders from Africa.
This article has been amended to include comment from Anthony Ighodaro