The Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbanjo has signed an agreement with the UK government to increase the deployment of solar energy in West Africa and other rural communities.
The signing follows the launch of the UK’s Energy Africa access campaign in October recently, which is designed to help the continent achieve universal energy access by 2030.
Specifically, Energy Africa will aim to “increase investment in off-grid energy firms, overcome regulatory barriers, foster innovation and accelerate delivery of solar energy systems to households across Africa”.
Osinbajo said that Nigeria will concentrate its efforts in increasing the supply and consumption of solar generated power. “With the cost of solar power 20 years ago that would have been impossible; the combination of innovation in technology, the low cost of solar power has made this all the more possible. This is an incredible opportunity in Africa, especially Nigeria, with over 96 million people who do not have access to power.”
Osinbajo pointed out that the use of kerosene had created a lot of safety and environmental issues, adding, “A default energy source should be solar and the option was not available for so long, but now it is cheaper, safer, and more environmentally friendly.”
The Nigerian market provides the greatest opportunity for the use of small-scale solar solutions and the country would be the ideal base to push the solar solution in the continent, according to him.
Speaking at the launch, Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the UN, said that while 620mn Africans live without access to conventional power, 300mn would still lack access by 2040, a decade after the UN target of developmental goals for universal energy.
Annan added, “This is intolerable, avoidable and profoundly unfair. It leaves the world’s poorest people to pay the highest prices for power.”
Annan added that the African Progress panel of the UN would assist in meeting the need for easy access to affordable energy.
“Africa is rich in untapped energy potential, including renewable sources such as sun, wind and hydro, all of which had advantage of speed and scope to decentralisation.”