The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Rural Electrification Agency (REA) Ahmad Salihijo has said that over 80 million Nigerians lack access to electricity.
Salihijo while speaking in Abuja on Saturday at the REA-NASS Workshop on Rural Electrification Programme: Legislation, Implementation and Sustainability noted that India used to be the country that has the most unelectrified population, and Nigeria has overtaken India, with 80 million Nigerians having no access to electricity.
Meanwhile, Salihijo stated that in order to bridge the electricity gap, about 2.5million dollars will be needed to reach the unelectrified 80 million Nigerians.
“We are looking forward to having a robust budget to allow us carry on our programmes within rural electrification, we have a gap of about 2.5million dollars and this is to be able to reach our target of electrifying over 80 million Nigerians, we do not mean that the 2.5million dollars have to come from the federal government”
According Salihijo, the agency will not depend solely on government funding but involve the private sector in achieving the aim.
“What we realize is that if we depend solely on government funding, we are not going to reach the unelectrified 80 million Nigerians, in the past few years, the private sector has taken interest in investing in power, so what we try to do is to promote a sustainable market that that allows private sector to come in”
“What we mean is that this is the kind of investment that needs to go within the sector, even if t is partnership with private sector developers, but this is the kind of figures that we are looking at today that will be able to help us bridge the gap that we have been speaking about.” He added.
The Minister of State for Power, Goddy Agba represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Chinyeaka Ohaa opined that renewable energy if duly harnessed will also bridged electricity gaps and accelerate development.
Furthermore, the minister said with the forward-learning policies and programmes of the federal government, the rural electrification agency was set up and mandated to explore the renewable energy option and stimulate the market to enable us close the energy gap and provide electricity to Nigerians.
He added it is obvious that the grid will not adequately cater for the energy needs of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Over 80 million Nigerians lack access to reliable electricity, to change this narrative, we must continue to strategically deploy renewable, off-grid technologies to power Nigeria, one community at a time”.
The Speaker House of Assembly, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who was represented by the Chairman House Committee on Power, Hon. Aliu Magaji stated that the workshop will enable law makers to do the needful in terms of budgetary allocation to power while bridging the energy gap in Nigeria.