Light up Nigeria
Olatawura Ladipo-Ajayi, Abuja Community Manager
Abuja, 22 April 2015
The city of Abuja is best described as Nigeria's planned city. Most of its development occurred in the 1980s and as such, there have been many opportunities to incorporate inclusive planning and growth. The 3,000 sq mi (7,770 sq km) city is home to over 2,245,000 residents and serves as the capital city of Nigeria, located in the Federal Capital Territory. Despite being a planned city, Abuja is growing quickly and has some of its own urban development challenges, including power supply. Although Abuja enjoys fairly decent power supply, like most cities in Nigeria, the city's challenges include connectivity and steady supply. Fortunately, Abuja will eventually benefit from a national renewable energy program focusing on sources of renewable energy.
In 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the pilot phase of "Light-Up Rural Nigeria" in three peri-urban communities in Abuja with a pledge to ensure constant power supply. The project is one of the many under the national renewable energy program headed by the Ministry of Environment and the federal government. It aims to use renewable energy to provide electricity to communities across Nigeria, especially communities not connected to the national grid. The overall goal is to provide clean, cheap and reliable renewable energy that would address both climate and power challenges in Nigeria.
The project is implemented through the sourcing for and deployment of alternative and sustainable renewable energy sources, to create sustainable livelihoods for the poor, who feel the effects of unstable electricity supply more than any other group. Products used in implementation of the program include the NAIJA LIGHT Solar Kit, a portable solar electrification kit that provides power to remote communities using a light bulb, a mobile charging unit, and a fan for additional cooling. The product is available in 50Mwh and 100Mwh kits. Another notable product is the NAIJA LIGHT Primary Health Care Solar Kits, designed to aid in health care delivery to remote or unconnected areas. The kit is equipped with a mini-freezer for storage of serums and vaccines, two lighting points, and a 10-point mobile phone charging unit.
The program progresses as more unconnected communities are identified in order to improve the reach of power and connect these areas that are currently off the grid. Advocates for unpowered communities reach out to relevant authorities to ensure that they are involved in the process. The impact of the program is being felt by the pilot communities, as in February 2015, two communities in Abuja celebrated a year of uninterrupted power supply. This increased power supply has led to a growth in SME activities such as welding and artisan businesses.