By Codratus Godson
Talks have opened in the Niger Delta about the abundant funding windows and opportunities to the oil region. This is part of policy strategies and talks already going in some other parts of the country but which All On, a firm in off-grid investments, said had been lacking in the Niger Delta.
All On’s Policy & Partnership Associate, Jadesola Rawa, told BusinessDay at the Nextier Power Roundtable in Port Harcourt last Friday, November 14, 2019, that the firm noticed that policy conversations were going on mostly in Abuja and other parts of the country.
She said the focus of All On and that of Nextier seemed to coincide, hence the decision to partner and bring conversations to the Niger Delta.
Rawa however made it clear that the Port Harcourt Roundatble was not only to create awareness but to open the eyes of the youths of the region to abundant opportunities opening up in the power sector.
She said: “We try to create an enabling environment for businesses in the off-grid sector so they can thrive pretty much. We decided to help Nextier Power because they hold conversions on power sector. This has been going on in Abuja since 2017 and we decided to partner with them to hold the conversations in the Niger Delta and raise awareness on what the prospects are in the off-grid. This is to show there is an alternative in the off-grid sector.
“We give support to make sure the sector thrives an survives. There are interests in funds within the off-grid sector. We do impact investments.
“Financing is a huge thing in Nigeria for any sector. What we do is try to look at the start-ups and see how we can give them initial grants to grow and be viable.”
The CEO of Nextier, Patrick Okigbo, son of the great poet, said the event in Port Harcourt was to look at mini-grids and solar home systems and see how they would help Nigeria especially the Niger Delta. “The conversation centred on whether technically, these systems are viable, whether they can work as well as the financial possibilities. Can it be the answer to the power challenge we have in Nigeria.
“We had a rich panel of people who have done a huge work in the off-grid systems. The young man from Green Village Electricity (GVE) was strong. GVE has done a lot of work in rural communities where they have used this system and have had uninterrupted power system for years.
There is an innovation where a mini-grid developer is partnering with a distribution company (Disco) providing power that is now distributed in their network. We brought Abuja Electricity Company and GVE because we hope there is something PHED and others can pick up and adopt.”
Chinedu Amah of Spark Ltd said the focus was on the challenges faced by off-grid adoption of home solar systems in Nigeria with Niger Delta in focus. “We looked at the opportunities for practitioners and customers and in the industry at large. There is headway because opportunities exist. Homes and small businesses will still require backup power because Nigeria does not have adequate power supply. There opportunity for everybody. Interconnected grids, mini-grids, are systems that can help business clusters, communities, etc. it will help them create value especially with partnerships. There are values and opportunities that are created.”
An engineer and project lead with GVE, Clement Ilechukwu, thrilled the audience when he revealed plans to undertake off-grid projects to serve 90,000 persons with $8m. He also mentioned deals signed with Abuja Disco to serve Wuse market, pointing to the much off-grid operators can do by collaborating instead of fighting with Discos.