Recently, Vosus Energy Limited, a solar start-up firm in Nigeria, unveiled the Volsus Solar for Health (VSFH) mini-grid programme in Abuja.
The firm is also targeting the installation of 5,000 units of such mini-grids across health centres to improve healthcare delivery services in Nigeria, after it flagged off the first VSFH at the Karu Primary Health Centre in Abuja earlier this month.
The Minister of State for Power, Mr Goddy Jedy-Agba, commissioned the 12 kilowatt power (kwp) VSFH mini-grid with 58 kilowatt hour (kwh) battery bank at the Karu health centre.
During the commissioning ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer of Volsus Energy Limited, Engr. Tomiwa Bayo-Ojo, said the Karu mini-grid is a sustainable, efficient, clean and reliable energy facility that was conceived towards improving Nigeria's health system while deepening the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Engr. Bayo-ojo also said the firm keyed into the focal drive of this administration especially in promoting rural and community based electrification as a means of boosting access to electricity in underserved and un-served places in Nigeria.
Studies have shown that in the renewable energy subsector of the power sector, there is little or no presence of independent investment that is heralded by the private sector to promote solar and other renewable energy penetration across Nigeria.
But according to Volsus Energy, that was changing. "Deeply concerned about this, and considering the state of the nation's health facilities, amidst the ravaging Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, Volsus Energy Limited, a foremost indigenous renewable energy and inverter producing start-up firm, initiated the Volsus Solar For Health (VSFH) programme.
"The firm has the vision to promote the attainment of Goal 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards creating ripple effects on the living conditions of millions of Nigerians who seek access to health facilities," Bayo-Ojo noted.
The firm noted that it plans to provide access to sustainable and uninterrupted electricity by deploying state-of-art solar power facilities across Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) nationwide.
The firm got the technical support of the Minister of State for Power while it fully funded the project up to the commissioning with over three years maintenance plans, Bayo-Ojo noted.
"This pilot mini grid project is fully funded by Volsus Energy Limited with technical and advisory support from the Office of the Minister of State for Power."
"Prior to the installation of this solar mini grid facility, access to uninterrupted power has been the bane of the centre especially as it could not operate optimally.
"However, this success story of the Volsus Solar For Health (VSFH) mini grid is changing that story.
"The mini grid is now providing 24 hour electricity to the wards, the labour room, the laboratory, and the entire building.
"There is also the component for a refrigerator to improve the storage process of vaccines for routine immunization at the centre," he explained.
Other components of the project include fans and cooling systems to improve the productivity and safety of the healthcare workers at this very delicate time.
The firm also launched the SUSTAINABLE ENERGY AFRICA magazine, a publication aimed at promoting wider reach of information on the evolution of the renewable energy sub-sector of the power sector in Nigeria and across Africa.
The Minister of State for Power, Goddy-Jedy Agba, said the Federal Government was giving more attention to rural electrification in the country because of the need to empower those who live in villages and ensure that their small-scale businesses thrive.
"This administration is also promoting the mini grid regulation made by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). For instance, through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), several mini-grid projects have been commissioned and more are underway."
The minister said on the basis of promoting mini grids, the Office of the Minister of State for Power at the Federal Ministry of Power supported Volsus Energy Limited, to flag off the VSFH programme, being the first of such private sector programmes so far.
"Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are critical facilities in rural communities as they are the first sign of government's effort in providing sustainable health to its people.
"However over the years, adequate power supply to them has been one of the challenges the facilities have faced across the states.
"I was informed that at a time, this Karu primary health centre had to suspend night shift because of the epileptic power supply and the challenges that come with that.
"I believe that this is now a thing of the past with the commissioning of this first VSFH 12 kilowatt power (KWP) solar mini-grid with 58 kilowatt hour (KWH) battery bank," the minister noted.
Lauding the efforts of Volsus Energy, the Officer-In-Charge of the Karu health centre, Akila Udoji, the period of darkness and epileptic power supply at the facility was over.
"Now our staff will be much more comfortable especially during night shift to deliver their best services, and most especially, we will have time to preserve our vaccines to ensure sustained routine immunisation for children," Udoji noted.