By John Meze, Lagos:
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola(SAN), has stated that vulnerable groups and communities would gain access to 75 percent funding to support their electricity development programmes through Rural Electrification Agency (REA) Fund.
The Minister, who made this known at the 21st monthly power sector meeting in Asaba in a text of his opening remark while announcing that the Federal Government had recovered 64.6 million dollars electricity debt from its international customers, informed that,REA had completed guidelines for the operation of this rural electrification funding scheme.
Fashola, who further stated that the money recovered was from Benin and Niger Republics, said that Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET) would work out modalities for distribution of the fund to the value chain operators.
The fund, he said, would help vulnerable groups and communities to gain access to funding to support their electricity development programme. “By way of explanation, the rural electrification fund was created by section 88 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) of 2005 to promote support and provide rural electrification access.
“The fund will provide a partial single payment capital subsidy and or technical assistance to eligible private Rural Power Developers, NGOs or communities to invest in options such as hybrid mini grids or solar home systems to scale up rural access to electricity.
“What they are likely to get are minimum amounts of N3.5m and maximum amounts of N106million or 75 per cent of project cost whichever is less,” he said.
According to him, REA will publish details of the guidelines and eligibility. These, he said, were only headline items of developments that characterised the progress the government was making month after month, especially since March 2017.
The minister, further informed that progress is also being made at the distribution levels. He listed the recent achievements in the franchise areas of the Benin DisCo to include the newly completed Asaba main 2x15MVA injection substation commissioned on Monday.
He said the completion of the substation was expected to improve service by reduction of load shedding and increase power supply to Okwe, Akuebulu, Jarret, Ogbeofu, Osadebe way, Okwe housing estate and Oduke.
“Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week and month by month we have not only gained momentum, we are seeing progress that inspires us to continue, because the power problem can be successfully managed by Nigerians.”
Speaking on measures to improve power supply in the coverage areas of the Benin DisCos, Fashola said Asaba – Benin 330KV line was energized to service on November 3.
Asaba 330kv substation is now being fed from both Benin and Onitsha. “The line also raised the number of circuits from Onitsha to Benin to three.”
According to him, a 40mva 132/33kv mobile transformer is undergoing installation at Auchi with in-house capacity to be commissioned in two weeks. Fashola also disclosed that a new 330/ 132kv substation would be constructed at Okpai with a 132kv line from the station to service a proposed 132/33kv substation at Kwale.
The minister, also, revealed that the installation of a new 60mva 132/33kv transformer would commence at Irrua transmission station any time from now.
He thanked well-meaning Nigerians who acknowledged that their experience on the power supply had improved, adding that their honesty inspired government and the operators to continue the improvement.
But , he averred that there were other challenges that must be collectively addressed. On estimated billing and metering, he also explained that government and sector operators were anxiously aaiting for the regulation from NERC to open up meter supply business