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FG to spend $150m on rural electrification projects —Fashola

The Federal Government, on Wednesday, expressed its readiness to spend 150 million dollars on rural electrification in the country.

The Minster of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babtunde Fashola, disclosed this in Abuja, at a business forum on  “Financing Opportunities in the Nigerian Power Sector”.

He said government would use 44 tertiary institutions and small hydro dams in the rural areas as anchors for the electrification programme.

Fashola said the money would be deployed towards providing Independent Power Plants (IPPs) to supply electricity to tertiary institutions and rural communities.

He said 37 out of  the 44 tertiary institutions audited for the project were universities, while seven were teaching hospitals.

The minister said government would deploy 37 IPPs made up of nine gas plants and 28 solar plants with a combined generation capacity of 120 megawatts to power all the universities.

According to him, the 37 IPPs will replace 1,105 generators that were hitherto serving the institutions and generating 210 MW of inefficient and unclean energy.

He said the amount would cover capital expenditure, operations and maintenance.

On financing opportunities in the Nation’s power sector, Fashola emphasised the need for financing and liquidity stability in the sector.

He said the Distribution Companies (DisCos) required financing for the supply of metres, upgrading distribution equipment like transformers, ring mains units, feeders for DisCos and funding, especially in foreign exchange.

For the GenCos, the minister said adequate liquidity was acquired to procure turbines, parts and accessories which were largely imported.

“They (DisCos) need a lot of operating capital to buy metres, to change transformers that are old, to extend access to their customers, to replace transformers and so on and so forth,”Fashola disclosed.

Fashola said investment in the GenCos was also profitable, noting that when the market is settled and stabilised, the return would be marvelous.

He said the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) would benefit from financing of its grid expansion programme if it could present a detailed prospect plan that would demonstrate investment needs and return potential.

The minister said solar, coal and other energy suppliers required investment to finance acquisition of photovoltaic panels, heavy duty equipment and related machines not made in Nigeria.

Fashola said Nigeria Buck Electricity Trader (NBET), a government owned company, was planning to raise a bond for investors to buy into it.

On the financing opportunities in rural electrification, he said: “there exists a list of endless possibilities and opportunities for investment in the nation’s power sector.”