By Constance Athekame
The World Bank said on Tuesday that it planned to commit additional 750 million dollars to deepen Nigerians access to electricity through the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP).
Ms Elizabeth Huybens, the World Bank’s Director of Strategy and Operations for Western Central African Region, said this while inspecting the 60 KiloWatts Mini Grid Project in Kilankwa Community, Kwali Area Council of Abuja.
The project is being implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) through NEP.
“This is our first national electrification project we see at work here, about $350 million is coming to a close, and we are preparing a successor project that will be $750 million.
“ We are definitely extending our support to something that we think is critical and Nigeria is leading the world in small grid development,” she said.
Huybens said that the Kilankwa project would assist the country in providing access to electricity to more people faster than it could have done by just extending the national grid.
“So, I am very impressed that the grids in small communities works and there is also the foresight to think about how one can fully optimise the use of the electricity generated to expand productive activities.
“Like the rice mill that we have just seen, I hope that in future, we will see a lot more of that,” she said.
The director said that the project was considered because the bank believed that access to electricity by all was one of the most important goals to pursue by any country.
According to her, without electricity, it is hard to think about how communities can live, adding that kids cannot study at night.
“We cannot move toward electric vehicles, if we don’t have electricity. In fact, you cannot even charge your cell phone without electricity.
“So, it is hard for me to think about modern life without electricity and it is hard for me to think about reducing poverty without access to electricity.
”And since the World Bank’s overarching goal is to help countries eradicate poverty, we need to help them provide access to electricity for its population,’’ Huybens said.
The Managing Director, REA, Mr Ahmad Salihijo, said that the project was currently serving about 300 households and businesses.
Salihijo said that the project was developed by the World Bank under the Performance-Based Grant of NEP.
“This has been operational for some time now. So, we are privileged to have come here with the World Bank team to see how it is performing.
“We are working on ensuring productive use and also that we have energy-efficient equipment connected to the mini grid,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr Ayuba Yabo, a Rice Miller, commended the Federal Government and the World Bank for bringing the project to their community.
Yabo said that the project had assisted him to reduce the cost of diesel to run his business and enabled him make more profit. (NAN)