After signing a 10 year agreement with the Federal Government to provide additional 10,000 mega watts of electricity in Nigeria, General Electric in collaboration with United States African Development Foundation, USAIDF has initiated a $2 million for Power Africa off grid initiatives.
Speaking at a joint media briefing with USAIDF, General Electric in Abuja, Nigeria President, Dr Lazarus Angbaza, said the 10,000 mega watts arrangement with the Federal Government notwithstanding, there was still a huge segment of the rural population that were either grossly underserved by the national grid or were not actually on the grid at all.
He said the occasion was to essentially drive attention to this segment of the population and, more importantly, encourage innovative initiatives that provide off grid power for rural and urban region currently lacking power supply.
Dr Angbaza said the Power Africa Off Grid Energy Challenge was a $2million initiative to promote innovative off grid energy solutions developed by African-owned and operated businesses.
He said initiative would award 20 or more grants of up to $100,000 each to innovations that further develop, scale up or extend the use of proven technologies for off grid energy.
“This initiative rewards innovation, but the monetary reward should be viewed beyond the value to the much deeper motivation, that is to positively touch lives of eventual beneficiaries of the off grid solutions in communities and corporations where they are needed,” he stressed.
Disclosing that the project would be launched this year in Nigeria and Kenya, the General Electric president said it might be expanded to other countries in the next three years.
Also speaking, the Economic Adviser to the US Embassy in Nigeria, Douglas Climan said the initiative rode on the back of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative which aimed at doubling generated power across the continent with a $9 billion grant
He said energy and power shortages across the continent constituted the bane of Nigeria’s and indeed Africa’s development.
Climan said the USAIDF sought to support initiatives that provide off grid energy for rural and urban regions currently lacking energy access.
“We believe that Nigeria has the expertise to address challenges on power in ways that can best be solved from a local perspective. To this end, we are calling for entries from companies, groups and individuals with innovative solutions that increase the delivery of off grid energy to marginalised populations,” he said.
Explaining the modus operandi of the initiative, Climan said only companies that met eligibility criteria would be considered and these include African owned and operated enterprises, associations or organisations or individuals who may have acquired or installed technology developed elsewhere.
He said the challenge was designed to allow wining projects further develop, scale up or extend use of proven technologies for off grid energy.