By John Ofikhenua, Abuja
About 200 years after Olooji community, Ijebu East, Ogun was founded, residents of the community for the first time experienced power supply with the official inauguration of a 100KWP solar-powered off-grid electricity system on Saturday.
The excited remote community of about 4,500 residents, the local leaders said, had never had a power supply or used basic home appliances because of the absence of electricity since the community was first discovered.
The solar hybrid system was built by the Federal Government through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), which is saddled with the responsibility of powering unserved and underserved communities.
REA Managing Director, Mr. Ahmad Salihijo, noted the goal of the government was to deploy the solutions to improve electricity access in communities to aid socio-economic development.
In a statement, the agency quoted Salihijo as saying: “I am delighted that the people of Ijebu will henceforth enjoy clean, safe and reliable energy as deployed under the first set of grants through the federal government’s Rural Electrification Fund (REF).
“REF is an initiative of the federal government, implemented by the REA to promote off-grid electrification and ensure that electricity is equitably distributed across Nigeria. Therefore, interventions such as these are being delivered across all zones.”
The REA boss explained the first set of grants under the REF will see the deployment of over 19,000 Solar Home Systems (SHS).
“The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari understands the nexus between reliable energy and development.
“To deliver on our mandate, interventions such as this are designed to deliver the energy needs of Nigerians and enhance the socio-economic status of beneficiary communities.
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“This will ultimately boost productivity and provide jobs in the community. With the delivery of this solar hybrid mini-grid, we are positive that the entrepreneurial skills and resourcefulness of the people of ljebu will be improved through the productive use of this infrastructure.
“We strongly believe that the quality of lives will be improved and children will have better learning experiences with access to reliable electricity. This project will enliven this community and expose it to greater investments in the nearest future,” he stated.
Ogun Governor Dapo Abiodun, who was represented by Commissioner for Rural Development, Mr. Oladotun Taiwo, emphasised the need to leverage novel technologies to aid the availability of reliable and sustainable electricity in Nigeria.
While commending the REA, the Governor stated it speaks a lot about fairness when remote communities feel the impact of the federal government.
“I will encourage my people to optimise the use of this new infrastructure. We will also ensure that other facilities within the community get energised through this mini-grid. We must collectively leverage on possible investment opportunities,” he stressed.
Ajalorun of Ijebu-Ife, Oba Adesesan Oguntayo said: “ Our main crop is cocoa, kolanut and palm oil and timber merchandising. Light is very important in life and we are happy the federal government is interested in this community.”
Managing Director, ACOB lighting, the partnering company, Mr. Alex Obiechina urged the community to protect the facility, saying that the project was built in conformity with international standards.