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FG Launches Simplified Environmental  Solar Mini-grid Projects in Nigeria 

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The Federal Government, with financial and technical support of the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development 
(BMZ) within the framework of the Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP), has launched the Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) Guidelines for Solar Mini-Grid Projects in Nigeria, 2022.

 

The ESMP Guideline is a simplified process for carrying out Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for solar mini-grid projects.

The main objectives of the ESMP Guidelines are to save costs for developers and enhance productivity during the development of solar mini-grid projects.

The revised general Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedural Guidelines, 2017, which was made pursuant to the EIA Act, 1992, provides that Category Two (II) Projects, such as solar power projects, may not require full-scale EIA, depending on the project’s perceived level of impact. 

The Federal Ministry of Environment, through the technical support from the NESP and in consultation with relevant stakeholders, developed the ESMP Guidelines which specifically applies to the solar mini-grid sector. 

Speaking at the launch of the ESMP Guidelines in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister of State for Environment, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Engr. Hassan Musa said, “Part of the mandate of the Federal Ministry of Environment is to encourage the use of clean sources of energy and ensure environmental protection in Nigeria. 

“It is in this vein that the Ministry developed and approved an abridged ESMP Guidelines for solar 
mini-grids that will not only encourage more investments into the sector but ensure that our environment is protected in the process”. 

In his remarks, the Director, Environmental Assessment Department of the ministry, Mr Abbas Suleiman, elaborated on the key implications of the ESMP Guidelines for the sector and the environment. 

He said “Given the exemption of solar power projects from requiring a full EIA process and the peculiarity of solar mini-grids, it became imperative to develop a Guideline that will regulate not just the environmental issues pertaining to these projects but the health and social aspects as well. 

“The Guideline is an encompassing document that provides a simplified step-by-step guide for developers and regulators on the activities to be carried out toward the approval of an ESMP, during the lifetime of a solar mini-grid as well as during project decommissioning.”

Also speaking, the Head of Section, Economic Cooperation and Energy at the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Inga STEFANOWICZ, restated that the EU will continue to strongly support and contribute towards Nigeria’s vision for a clean and sustainable environment. 

She noted that, “the EU’s support towards the development of the ESMP Guidelines aims to encourage higher 
investments into the solar mini-grid sector, which will ultimately increase access to clean and affordable electricity in rural and peri-urban communities across Nigeria”.

Similarly, the Head of Programme, NESP, Mr Duke Benjamin expressed NESP’s delight to have provided technical assistance to the ministry in developing the ESMP Guidelines. 

“We are glad to have supported the Ministry not only in developing the ESMP Guidelines, but in facilitating several stakeholders’ workshops and a public hearing, to collate feedbacks and contributions from key stakeholders and experts in the sector”, he said.

The NESP is a technical assistance programme co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Power (FMP). It aims to foster investments for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and to improve access to electricity for disadvantaged, rural communities.

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Tinubu @72: Minister Visits Inmates in Kuje Correctional Service

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Dr Bosun Tijani, Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, on Friday visited the inmates of Nigerian Correctional Service, Kuje to  commemorate 72nd birthday of President Bola Tinubu.

The minister, who was represented by his aide, Nafisa Bello, said the visit was to celebrate President’s birthday with inmates by providing them packs of food to put smile on their faces.

Tijani, who wished the President a happy birthday, said the gesture was a way of commending the President’s resilience, pragmatic leadership and commitment to service.

He said even though the president had instructed that no one should organise a birthday party or place any birthday goodwill advertorial messages in newspapers, it was a special day.

“We are here to celebrate President Bola Tinubu’s 72nd birthday and share love with the inmates. We have distributed food packs, we have met and had good conversations with some of them.

“We wish the president a happy birthday, long life and property,” minister said.

One of the inmate, Chiwendu Hart, who spoke on behalf of all the inmates described the gesture as an act of love, adding that they were not in the correctional service for punishment but correction.

He thanked the Federal Government and the correctional officers for rehabilitating and integrating the inmates to come out and live a crime free life.

According to him, the Nigerian Correctional Service has set up degree courses, ran by the National Open University (NOUN) and some skills to keep the inmates busy while undergoing trials.

He said that he had graduated and had a Masters in theology and waiting to enroll for his PhD.

“I am a beneficiary of NOUN, I came here with secondary school certificate but today, I am a graduate and have my Masters in theology.

“Even if after you leave the correctional centre, you can still come back and finish up the courses or the skills you started with.

“Once we leave here, we will go out there and explore what we have learnt in order to live a good life.”

He urged the Federal Government to equip some of the vocational programmes with study materials, tailoring machines, carpentry and shoe making tools.

He wished the President a happy birthday. (NAN)

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NDPC to Sustain Journalists’ Engagement for Better Data Protection Reportage

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The Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) says it will sustain the engagement of journalists for continuous propagation of data privacy and protection message.

The National Commissioner of NDPC, Dr Vincent Olatunji, communicated this when he received officials of the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) on Monday in Abuja.

Olatunji recognised that times were changing; hence journalists needed to be abreast with the dynamism in the data privacy and protection ecosystem.

He said the media had remained a great asset towards nation building and continuous engagement would ensure that they played their role maximally.

“We are aware of the freedom of expression granted to you the press by the constitution, but we felt that it is important to train you to understand that part.

“I see this collaboration as a continuous thing, more importantly, now everything is changing, we need to deepen your knowledge on data privacy.

“We cannot do awareness under this building; we need media to assist us to disseminate this information so that people can comply with the data protection policies.’’

He said that the commission was collaborating with relevant institutions in ensuring that data privacy and protection policies were adhered to.

Olatunji said that the commission was working with Committee of Vice Chancellors to further deepen knowledge about data protection.

“We are also working with National Board for Technology Education for Polytechnics and others.

“All these efforts are geared towards ensuring that the message of data protection is spread and there is virtually nothing we can do without you.’’

The national commissioner encouraged NITRA members to pursue training as certified Data Protection Officers, adding that it was a lucrative area with readily available jobs.

According to him, when the training is combined it with knowledge of journalism, there is more advantage more than other data processing officers.

“It is a huge ecosystem that has something for everybody to benefit; so, we need to collaborate and ensure you catch up with the changes in data privacy ecosystem,’’ he said.

Mr Babatunde Bamigboye, Head, Legal, Enforcement and Regulations, NDPC, said many data controllers continuously breached data rights of citizens unknowingly.

Bamigboye, however, said that in spite the need for freedom of speech, there was the place of privacy and rights of the people, which the commission was committed to.

He told the journalists that it was important to learn some emerging ethics that would aid balancing the rights and privacy of individuals while reporting.

President of NITRA, Mr Blessing Olaifa, congratulated Olatunji on the adoption of Nigeria Data Protection Act 2023, adding that it had empowered the commission to enforce data protection in Nigeria.

“We congratulate you on your appointment by the President Bola Tinubu; it is a measure of your hard work and tenacity for the industry growth.

‘We also congratulate you on the passage of the Nigeria Data Protection Act 2023; that has given you the impetus to operate in a way that people are now aware of data.

‘Before now, people were not much familiar and interested in data, some thought it was only data in their phones, but they are aware about information they give about themselves to institutions,’’ she said.

Olaifa, while commending the NDPC on its drive towards engaging the media in its activities, said it was necessary consolidating on the collaboration for more results.

“This is in view of the fact that the sector is dynamic and we need more capacity building to fine-tune our knowledge and upscale our skills while reporting,’’ he said. (NAN

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AU, ALPA Target 3000 Beneficiaries for Hepatitis Treatment in Nasarawa

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The African Union, Scientific, Technical and Research Commission (AU-STRC), African Scientific Research and Innovation Council (AU-ASRIC) have partnered with African Liver Patient Association (ALPA)  to offer free hepatitis treatment to Nasarawa State indigenes.

The Senior Scientific Officer of AU-STRC, Dr Mohammed Kyari, disclosed this  to  the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Model Comprehensive Health Centre, Shabu, Lafia.

Kyari said that the project targeted a total of 3000 persons to benefit from the free hepatitis care, tests and treatment in Shabu, Lafia.

He said the project followed a sensitization and education of communities at all levels including testing which was targeted at the age group 12-80 years old.

Kyari added that the project was a build up from the research conducted by the AU- STRC and ASRIC from 2018 to date with a priority area on “prevention and control of diseases”.

“ The hepatitis testing using the serological rapid diagnostic tests with results in 15 minutes and treatment will commence immediately for positive cases,” he said.

According to him, vaccination will be administered on those that are negative, then further testing will be administered on those tested positive through a viral load confirmation.

Kyari also said that the treatment would focus more on the elimination of mother to child transmission and timely administration of birth dose vaccines for newborns and also by raising awareness.

He added that the project was a pilot phase on the implementation of the ASRIC Flagship Project on Village free of Hepatitis in Nasarawa State, which will hold from the 6th -20th December, 2023.

“ The project is also in line with the implementation of the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024) pillar on building technical and professional competencies.” Kyari said.

NAN monitored events at the Model comprehensive health centre, Shabu, which is the location of the hepatitis free village in Lafia, Nasarawa State and the theme is “ Hepatitis Free Village”..

NAN also reports that there are a total of seven Egyptian doctors on site attending to the residents of Shabu community and about 2500 persons have since benefited from free treatment by receiving free drugs and vaccination.

Among the medical personnel from the Egyptian Liver Research Institute and Hospital (ELRIAH) working on hepatitis eradication in Lafia are Dr. Ahmed Salem, Dr. Ayman Abdelfattah and Prof. Ahmed Farahat (NAN)

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