By Olufemi Adediran, Abeokuta

The European Union Representative in Nigeria, Kurt Cornelius, on Friday disclosed that  poor supply of electricity in the country is responsible for an annual average of $13 billion spent by residents to fuel generating sets.

Speaking at the inauguration of a green energy project in Gbamugbamu, a rural community in Ijebu East Local Government, Ogun State, Cornelius lamented that 45% of Nigerians do not have access to electricity with those who are connected suffering regular power outages.

His words, “We need to look at the importance of this energy support intervention in the concept of Nigeria. You will all agree with me that Nigeria is facing serious energy problems with about 45 percent still without access to electricity and those connected experience frequent power outage.

“Nigerians spent $13billion a year on private diesel operated generators in other to compensate for the electricity shortages. About 86 percent of the companies in Nigeria run or share a generator and about 48 percent of total electricity demand is covered by this private generators. This not only represent a high unnecessary cost on people but has a very negative impact on the environment. It is however important to seek alternative solutions using renewable energies especially in rural areas.

“The EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, indeed, has made access to electricity and promotions of cleaner and energy solution a core part of its cooperation in Nigeria. €150 million has been committed in the current programme and actions for access in the area of access to electricity and to promote the use of renewable energy.”

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The European Union  in the joint effort with Germany had on Friday inaugurated a 85KWP Solar Hybrid Mini-Grid Project in Gbamugbamu, with Cornelius explaining that the project was jointly financed by the EU and the German Government under the Nigerian Energy Support Programme of the Federal government.

Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, in his remarks, insisted that if Nigeria must overcome the challenges of acute power shortage, the power sector must be unbundled.

He called on the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly to come up with legislations that would unbundle the sector currently on the Exclusive Legislative List of the country’s 1999 constitution. In Amosun’s view, the legislation would provide a clear framework and set boundaries for the involvement of States, local government authorities and private investments in the energy sectors.

“Let me seize the opportunity to appeal to all relevant stakeholders to work towards proper legislation for the participation of State and Local Government Authorities, respectively, and private investors in the Energy industry. This will provide a clear framework and set the boundaries for the involvement of each participants in the generation, transmission and distribution of power,” Amosun said.

In their separate remarks, the Consul Generals of United States of America and Federal Republic of Germany, John Bray and Ingo Herbert, said electricity generation, transmission and distribution remained a serious challenge in Nigeria.

Bray disclosed that the US government was targeting 60 million new connections with 30,000 Megawatt of power through a programme tagged ‘Power Africa’.

He said, “One of the priorities of US government in Africa is power sector development, and programme to actualise this goal is called power Africa. We want to have 30,000 Megawatt of power in established 60 million new connections and what’s happening here today in Gbamu-Gbamu is in support of that.

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“We all know Nigeria face a lot of challenges in terms of electricity generation, transmission and distribution and part of the solution to the large problem is small mini grid solutions that can be deployed quickly in partnership with local communities and private sector.”

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