FG reiterates commitment to clean energy as 7.1MW power plant goes live at BUK

In continuation of its plan to energise the nation’s universities with a view to catapulting them to world-class standard, the Federal Government last week inaugurated a 7.1MW plant, the largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant in Africa, at the Bayero University, Kano. SULAIMON OLANREWAJU reports.

 

The environment was electric and the crowd was ecstatic. The students could not contain themselves, neither could the faculty members hide their joy. The situation could not be different because it was the realisation of a long-awaited dream. It was an epochal event; the inauguration of a 7.1MW power plant, the largest off-grid power plant in Africa, at the Bayero University, Kano.

The landmark event, which took place last weeek, had the cream of the society led by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, in attendance.

Speaking at the inauguration of the project, which is meant to provide 55,815 students and 3,077 staff electricity round the clock, the Vice President said the project attested to the Federal Government’s commitment to the provision of clean energy.

According to him, “The Energising Education Programme is strategic to fulfilling Nigeria’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as it aims to reduce Nigeria’s carbon footprint using renewable energy technologies, in line with the Federal Government’s mandate and unwavering efforts to increase renewable energy.”

He added, “The installed 7.1mw decentralized solar hybrid power plant funded by the FGN green bond will supply over 58,000 students and staff with clean, safe and reliable electricity. I am sure that the entire student body, management and staff of Bayero University are proud to be beneficiaries of this, most especially as the only federal university in Kano State and one of the longest standing ones. As a result, students can now focus on their academic and vocational training in a safer and illuminated environment.

“This significant initiative upholds the Federal Government of Nigeria’s adherence to global best practice, as we transition to cleaner sources of energy in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. These projects being implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) are strategic to fulfilling our commitments to the agreement as they strive to reduce Nigeria’s carbon footprint.  The leveraging of renewable energy technologies is in line with the Federal Government mandate and related activities. Nigeria’s plans to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent unconditionally and 45 per cent with international support by 2030 aims to limit the damaging effects of climate change.

“Our policies and objectives under the Energizing Education Programme in this administration’s Next Level roadmap remain the same. The ultimate goal is to increase access to modern technical education in safe and illuminated learning environments, empower the girl child, and create jobs in the power sector value chain, amongst others.

“Thus far, this project created 182 energy related jobs from power system engineers to electricians as well as trained 20 young female STEM students with the skills to contribute to strengthening our energy sector. It is initiatives like this that create the impact for Nigeria’s socio-economic growth.”

Also speaking, the host governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who was full of joy and appreciation to the Federal Government, said he was excited that the BUK was slated as one of the beneficiaries of the Energizing Education Programme.

His words, “This is an absolute privilege for the student body and management of Bayero University Kano, especially as one of the oldest federal universities in Nigeria and I am grateful it was earmarked to benefit from the Energizing Education Programme.”

While elucidating on wthe benefits of the EEP, Ganduje said the programme “is energising the youth and once the youth are energised you are de-energising armed robbery, bandits, kidnapping, etc. There is no doubt that it will have a multiplier effect on the nation’s social economic situation and will provide a conducive environment for the academic community. The STEM training facilitated by REA has impacted our female students and erased the notion that women are not good in technical education. This has boosted their morale to see themselves as being capable in any field.”

The governor added, “Now our students can study round the clock without fear of power failure or insecurity within the university campus, thanks to the reliable electricity and installation of 11.4Km of streetlights across the campus. This is a testament to the Buhari administration’s Next Level Roadmap which is delivering results through best practice infrastructure development.”

In his remarks, Minister of Power, Honourable Sale Mamman, an alumnus of BUK, noted that he was delighted to be part of the historic moment.

Beaming with smiles, the minister said, “The Ministry’s power policy specifically targets education to ensure that all federal universities, to begin with, have access to reliable electricity. Notably, the Energising Education Programme was designed to involve students from project inception for project sustainability.  I am delighted to be back at my alma mater as we commission the 7.1MW solar hybrid power plant, world class workshop and training centre and solar-powered streetlights under the Energising Education Programme (EEP). It was just a few years ago that I, too, was a student here without access to reliable electricity. So, it is particularly heartwarming for me to be here for this commissioning. This is a major achievement and an important step in scaling up our mandate to bring reliable and affordable power to homes, schools, hospitals communities and economic clusters across Nigeria.

“The Energizing Education Programme was conceptualized and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016. I am privileged to take on this mantle to ensure that the policies established to promote electricity access in our country bring forth impactful and sustainable results. Therefore, it is with a great sense of pride that I stand before you today to affirm that this is indeed the beginning of more to come.”

In his commendation of the 20 participants of the Female STEM Internship Programme, he urged them to be focused and steadfast saying, “Nigeria needs your newly acquired skills.”

Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency, Damilola Ogunbiyi, described it a privilege to commission another university project, under Phase 1 of the Energising Education Programme (EEP), at the Bayero University, Kano.

According to her, “The EEP project at BUK is the second to be commissioned as we recently commissioned the first project – a 2.8MW solar hybrid plant at Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, in Ebonyi State on the 2nd August 2019.  It is noteworthy that this particular project here at Bayero University, with an installed capacity of 7.1MW, is the largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant in Africa. In line with this administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, I am proud to say that the education sector is already reaping benefits from the installation of solar hybrid power plants across the country.

“I must reiterate here that the Ministry of Power has focused on nurturing this emerging off-grid sector with the right policy initiatives aimed at providing access to power across Nigeria in rural communities, economic hubs and, in this case under the EEP, federal universities and university teaching hospitals.

“Under my leadership, the Rural Electrification Agency’s mandate under the Energizing Education Programme is clear; to provide clean, reliable, safe and sustainable electricity to selected federal universities and teaching hospitals. We must rehabilitate existing electricity distribution infrastructure, illuminate university campuses for improved security and construct renewable energy training centres.

“Another important component of this project is the Female STEM Internship Programme, where 20 BUK female students received training in the design and construction of the solar hybrid power plant. Under the tutelage of the solar developer, these women received hands-on field and classroom training through the course of this project’s implementation.”

Ogunbiyi expressed her appreciation to the ministries of power and environment for their support, President Buhari-led administration for the initiative that is putting Nigerian education on the global map as well as the entire REA team for their contributions and strategic roles played by everyone.

In his remarks, Vice-Chancellor, Bayero University, Professor Muhammad Yahuza Bello, said, “The Federal Government of Nigeria’s EEP project could not have been implemented at a better time for BUK, where over 55,000 students and 3,000 staff will now experience teaching, learning and research in a more conducive and safer environment with access to clean and reliable electricity. The Energizing Education Programme supports BUK’s mission to address developmental challenges in Nigeria, through cutting-edge research, knowledge transfer and training. This is a joyous moment for not just our university, but also for Kano State, Nigeria’s second largest industrial centre. I am very excited for the expected positive impact this initiative will have in transforming the way we teach, learn, and live on our campus. Also, under the EEP, students will be responsible for the project’s sustainability thanks to the technical and practical training our students received through construction.”

Commenting on the impact of the BUK solar hybrid installations, Managing Director, METKA West Africa Limited, the EPC contractor, Mr Evangelos Kamari, said “the state-of-the-art solar hybrid power plant will result in carbon dioxide savings of 108,875,120Ibs, a feat we as green contractors are proud of.”

The 7.1mw solar hybrid power plant is a project under the Energising Education Programme (EEP) and implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA). The EEP is an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria to provide sustainable and clean power supply to 37 federal universities and seven university teaching hospitals across the country. The project which is in three phases and funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria, the World Bank and the African Development Bank respectively.

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