U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has empowered the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) with a 1.06 million dollars grant to enable it to improve power supply in its franchises area.
Speaking at the signing of the grant in Abuja on Friday, AEDC’s Managing Director, Mr Ernest Mupwaya, said that the company would spend the grant in partnership with Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Institute.
Mupwaya added that the application of the grant was part of efforts by AEDC to explore available solutions aimed at providing electric power 24 hours a day to customers in FCT, Niger, Kogi, and Nasarawa states.
“In our environment for instance, there is a huge disparity in the level of electrification between urban and rural areas where access to electricity is higher in urban areas compared to rural areas.
“As a company, we have designed a strategy which seeks to holistically examine how the obvious huge gaps in the level of electrification can be narrowed.
“ In addition, we are developing and implementing initiatives to improve the quality of supply in urban areas.
“We are also considering how we can close up the gaps in rural areas where the challenges, some of which include the affordability of electricity and long distances which require extensive network remain unique to these areas,” he said.
Mupwaya expressed AEDC’s gratitude to USTDA for providing the funding needed to help the company provide electricity to under-served communities through the implementation of up to 1,370 solar-powered mini-grids with energy storage systems.
He said that with the support from USTDA and Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Institute, AEDC would conduct a feasibility study that would identify specific opportunities for different areas.
“ So that AEDC can ultimately have bankable solutions, which in turn can facilitate partnerships with other investors.
“This will enable us to achieve sustainable overall improvement consistent with our desire to provide quality electricity to our franchise area,” he said.
According to him, the grant will, through the feasibility study, identify optimal locations for complimentary mini grid deployments within the catchment area of AEDC as part of a strategic plan to provide power 24 hours beginning with Abuja.
“(This toward the) Development of an integrated distribution framework that combines the central grid with decentralised off grid power solutions, which will, where appropriate, include mini grids, off grid mini grids, grid extension projects and solar home systems,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Mr Thomas Hardy, Acting Director of USTDA, said that the grant was for the funding of three projects that would electrify dozens of rural communities to support economic activities and job creation.
Hardy, represented by Heather Lanigan, USTDA’s Regional Director, sub-Saharan Africa, said that the grant was the agency’s support for energy projects with strengthened business ties between the U.S. and Nigeria.
He said that the ideas was to deliver important results for the Nigerian people.
“USTDA is committed to helping AEDC provide electricity to under-served communities through the implementation of up to 1,370 solar-powered mini grids with energy storage systems,” he said.
He said that Support Power Africa, a U.S. government-led-initiative planned to increase electricity access across the continent, just as Prosper Africa, a U.S. government initiative aimed to substantially boost trade between U.S. and Africa.
According to him, USTDA had funded more than 70 projects in Nigeria with more focus on energy, telecommunications, transportation, healthcare, and agribusiness.
AEDC’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Mrs Ijeoma Okeke said that the company recognised the need to partner with mini-grids that could deploy energy to rural communities as quickly as possible.
Okeke noted that AEDC was already partnering with the Rural Electrification Agency and that the project would complement the company’s efforts toward ensuring that consumers had efficient power supply.
According to her, the project will be carried out over a period of six months.
(Edited by Isaac Aregbesola/Emmanuel Yashim)