Nigeria investing in solar energy to power rural communities

Nigeria’s government has just announced its intention to make another round of investments in solar energy to supply up to 10 rural communities that currently lack access to the national power grid. The initiative, funded by Nigeria’s Ministry of Science and Technology, will benefit around 5,000 individuals living in villages spread across several local governments and is projected to cost 150m Naira, or $1.25 million.

The solar panels, built by an industry consortium that includes the Dynamic Treasure Chest Company, Hafas Enterprises and Impasse Technologies, are expected to be delivered by the end of January 2008. A similar project was launched last year in a village on Bishop Kodji Island; an earlier scheme in 2002 — coordinated with the assistance of Japan — lit 200 rural communities.

In addition to providing an ideal energy solution for communities lacking the necessary electrical infrastructure, the solar panels will also help treat and pump water from storage tanks in the villages. As Adenike Boyo, director of science and technology at the Directorate of Policy, Programs and Promotion, explained, they offer many benefits over other alternatives: “The lifespan of the panel is 30 years according to the manufacturer. Also there is little or no maintenance: all the villagers need is to clean dust from the panels. The deep gel battery will last for 10 years.”