Solar Nigeria for the People Limited (Solar Nigeria FTP), the Nigerian subsidiary of Solar Philippines at the weekend signed a Community Agreement with Ode Omi Community to invest about half a million dollars to build Nigeria's largest rural mini-grid.
Signing the agreement, the Country Director of Solar Nigeria FTP, Tobi Oluwatola, said the project when completed will electrify 634 households, seven schools, three hospitals, eight religious organizations, and more than 90 businesses in the community.
The project which is due to be commissioned in September 2019 will supply a peak load of 99kW to the community in its first phase, and up to 500kW in its second phase.
Giving highlights of the benefits of the project to the community, Mr Oluwatola explained that the company plans to train and employ more than 50 youth from Ode Omi Community in the construction phase and also employ security personnel from the village as well as empower existing recharge card vendors to make additional revenue from selling prepaid meter credits for the mini-grid in the operations phase.
"Other benefits to the community will include free street lighting and better health and education outcomes as hospitals can have necessary cooling, heating and lighting solutions and children will have light to study at night. Women also would not have to travel long distances to fetch water and wood as electric stoves and water pumps will replace firewood and stream water," Mr Oluwatola explained.
Mr Oluwatola noted that the Ode Omi project is the first out of hundreds to be constructed by his company, just as he assured of his firm's commitment to work with Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to build interconnected mini-grids that will supply many areas in urban centres.
"This is the first of many. Our goal is to build 100 mini-grids in our first year and to also work with DISCOs to build interconnected mini-grids that will supply previously underserved urban areas. We think that with solar today being cheaper than diesel (and gas in some countries), it is unconscionable that Nigerians continue to endure power cuts when we can aggressively deploy solar to solve the problem at scale. Our aim is to end energy poverty everywhere it exists," he said.
Speaking for the community, His Royal Highness, Adenuga Okuniyi (Ojafoyewa II) thanked the company for building its pilot mini-grid in Ode Omi community. He stressed the importance of the community and its rich history going back to Oduduwa, the ancestral father of the Yoruba people, one of whose direct descendants reportedly founded the Ode Omi dynasty.
The signing of the community solar agreement was witnessed by the Chairman of the Ogun Waterside Local Government, Abajo Olabode; the Chairman of the Ode Omi Community Solar Power Committee, Ahmed Surakatu; and Solar Philippines officials, Terence Dy Echo and Carlos Fernandez.
Some of the members of the community interviewed were excited about the prospects of 24 hours uninterrupted power in the community.
Babatunde Ajose, a local entrepreneur said the project will make his business be more productive and profitable.
According to him, he would not have to travel four miles, and spend N1000 on transportation to Folu village to buy fuel for his generator on a weekly basis. He was also pleased to know that the tariff, would ensure that he spends less than he currently spends on fuel to get reliable and clean power.
Like Mr Ajose, five rice millers, and several fishermen interviewed also echoed similar sentiment, saying that constant electricity will enable them to save costs and also preserve their products better with affordable cold storage options.
In only five years of its founding, the company is already the largest vertically integrated solar developer-manufacturer-EPC-IPP in South East Asia, with 800 MW manufacturing capacity, 500 MW projects operating and under construction and multiple GW in development in seven countries.