How solar-powered cabins and refrigerators are changing the lives of coastal communities


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Over the years, the lack of adequate electrical power in rural communities has resulted in people living without electricity for years and crippled businesses without electricity.

More than 85 million Nigerians do not have access to the electricity grid, according to the World Bank, representing 43 percent of the country’s population, making Nigeria the country with the largest energy access deficit in the country. world.

The World Bank has revealed that the lack of electricity supply has significantly affected citizens and businesses, resulting in annual economic losses estimated at $ 26.2 billion (10.1 billion naira), which is equivalent to about 2 billion dollars. % of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The World Bank Doing Business 2020 ranked Nigeria 171st out of 190 countries for electricity supply.

Rural and coastal communities are the hardest hit, leading to over-reliance on generators with their ever-increasing costs and health risks.

Many coastal communities in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region have been without power for decades. People mainly fish, which requires electricity for storage before selling. People have waited years without being connected to the network. It has become a stumbling block for the growth of their businesses.

Steven Ibikunle, the founder of Philipcom Hotel, used generators to power his hotel, spending a huge amount of money on gasoline.

“Before, we used a generator and we used a lot of fuel because of that,” he said.

Tari Jackson, a fish farmer who has lived in Fish Town since 2002, said she started drying the fish in 2003.

“We still dry fish every day and sometimes our fish spoil because there is no electricity to keep them from spoiling, and as a result we lose a lot of money,” he said. he lamented.

To address this issue, the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND), a non-governmental organization (NGO) established in 2010 with seed funding from Chevron Corporation to promote peace and equitable economic growth in the region from the Niger Delta to Nigeria by forging several sectoral and multi-stakeholder partnerships at regional, national and international levels facilitate off-grid, low-carbon and low-cost solar solutions to meet local needs through the Foundation’s intervention in energy access to stimulate improved economic development through cost savings for small businesses and households, as well as improving the standard of living of residents of these last mile off-grid coastal communities.

Between 2015 and 2019, as part of its energy access program, PIND assessed the energy needs and possible solutions for underserved coastal communities in the region and urged private renewable energy providers to develop specific business models for last mile customers, and encouraged engagement between them and community stakeholders. This was done to ensure adherence to a meeting between supply and demand that secures the long-term viability of investors and stimulates demand for renewable energy services.

The Access to Energy program aims to provide access to affordable renewable energy to households and businesses in order to improve productivity, increase income, create new jobs and improve the quality of life of residents. communities.

PIND in 2019 facilitated the installation of a 15 kW pilot energy cabin in the community of Gbagira in Ilaje LGA in Ondo State and has since facilitated the installation of five energy cabins in five other coastal communities. These communities include the community of Molutehin in Ilaje LGA and the community of Gbokoda, both in Ondo State, which were funded through a grant from Chevron Corporation to feed its communities from the Global MoU to the help from energy booths; a 21.06 kW hybrid solar energy cabin in the community of Lomileju and a 19 kW energy cabin in the community of Obe-Jedo in Ondo State; two 20 kW solar mini-grids in the communities of Awoye and Odofado in Ondo State thanks to funds mobilized by the Ilaje Regional Development Committee (IRDC); and 20 kW solar powered cabin in the community of Ogheye in the Warri North local government area in Delta State.

By the end of 2020, 1,082 underserved and off-grid coastal businesses and households had gained access to clean energy technologies for the first time thanks to the energy interventions of the PIND.

PIND’s energy access program director Teslim Giwa said the power booths will provide reliable electricity to businesses and households in the communities.

He revealed that the energy access program started when PIND entered into the five-year Appropriate Technology Appropriate Development Program (ATED).

“Many communities have never been connected to the grid and many of them are located on the outskirts of the coast. They have lived in communities for years without electricity. In the past, some communities had stable electricity through localized energy systems, as they benefited from wealthy individuals who donated generators to serve the communities, ”he said.

“We have been successful in convincing communities to adopt the new solar system to generate electricity in their communities,” said Giwa.

The energy cabins have helped communities reduce their business costs, extend their hours of operation and power large-load household appliances, said Kehinde Tayo Emmanuel, CEO of Vectis Business Option Limited, one of the cabin installers. energetic.

Several businesses such as restaurants, fish-smoking kitchens, hair salons, retail stores, tailoring stores, butchers, micro-hotels, fishing equipment stores, spare parts retailers boats, pharmacies, local booking agencies and mobile money kiosks are some of the companies that have benefited from the energy cabins.

Ibikunle has now acquired solar electricity for his hotel.

“Sunlight helps a lot. I used to use about two refrigerators before, but now I use three and all of my systems are working great, ”he said.

Pa Malo Felix, the Olaja of the Ogheye community, was grateful for the installation of the solar powered cabin in the Ogheye community.

“We love it and we appreciate it,” he said. “Before solar came in, we had generators in this community, but due to the state of the fuel, we couldn’t power the generator. Solar is with us and what we do is recharge solar. We really like solar here, and we would like solar to stay. I therefore thank the people who brought this solar to the community, ”he concluded.

PIND Executive Director Tunji Idowu said power booths will increase the productivity of businesses in communities and enable them to earn more income, adding that communities can sell solar power competitively at a variety of small and micro enterprises in these rural areas.

“As access to energy is arguably the holy grail of development, these facilities enable a diverse group of beneficiaries in communities to meet basic energy needs and productive uses of energy at the household level and rural businesses. These will allow these typically agrarian and fishing communities to benefit from a direct added value to fish and agricultural products, while new service industries are likely to emerge ”.

He also expects the facilities to serve as community hubs and integrators that facilitate the use of electricity for traditionally recognized rural livelihoods, and potentially large employers of rural populations.

“We further expect them to create a new set of livelihood opportunities while simultaneously providing a platform that can support other parallel community development interventions,” he said.

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Karl M. Bailey