Decentralization of Renewable Energy Solutions

Stakeholders in Nigeria’s electricity sector have expressed concern over the sluggish progress in expanding electricity access through decentralized renewable energy solutions. At a high-level policy dialogue event titled Sustainability, Inclusiveness, and Governance of Mini-grids in Africa (SIGMA), these stakeholders have united to tackle the numerous challenges hindering the growth of mini-grids in the country.

Hosted by the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED), this event served as a platform to present and validate findings from a multi-year, multi-country research project funded by the UK on SIGMA.

During the program, Joshua Gana, Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Power, emphasized the significance of this forum for engaging stakeholders in addressing electricity access challenges. He stressed the need for collaborative efforts among government agencies, private sector entities, and local communities to successfully execute mini-grid initiatives nationwide, reaffirming the House of Representatives’ commitment to expanding electricity access to rural communities.

Senator Yunus Akintunde, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment, highlighted the importance of decentralized electricity governance in enhancing energy access. He called for the establishment of electricity agencies at the local government level, similar to local authorities overseeing basic education and primary healthcare, to facilitate effective governance, planning, and monitoring of mini-grid development.

Ewah Eleri, Nigeria’s Team Leader, expressed concern about the current scale of mini-grids in the country, stating that Nigeria needs at least 1.5 million new connections annually over the next decade to bridge the electricity access gap. To meet this challenge, Eleri emphasized the need to significantly expand electricity supply, primarily through decentralized renewable energy options like mini-grids.

Temilade Sesan, Co-Investigator of the research project in Nigeria and a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, underlined the necessity of reevaluating the roles of market forces and government in delivering electricity access through mini-grids. She noted that the technical, financial, and environmental sustainability of mini-grid development in Nigeria is in question, highlighting the need for equitable access, especially for women.

Anthony Akene, the Director of the Rural Electrification Fund, acknowledged the importance of mini-grids in powering remote and hard-to-reach rural communities. However, he raised concerns about challenges such as low-income levels and the rising costs of imported solar energy components due to exchange rate fluctuations. Akene stressed the need for greater government and stakeholder intervention to ensure the long-term sustainability and maintenance of these projects in rural areas.

The stakeholders at the SIGMA policy dialogue are united in their commitment to address the challenges hindering the expansion of mini-grids and electricity access in Nigeria. Their discussions have underscored the need for collaborative efforts, improved governance, and the scaling up of decentralized renewable energy options to bridge the electricity access gap and ensure a sustainable and equitable future for all.

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  • Samson Adeyemo

    An experienced broadcast and print media journalist with nose for news and proven track records of success without compromising objectivity.

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