Nigerian education sector got a boost recently as Federal Government commissioned the largest off-grid solar power plant (7.1MW) in Africa at Bayero University, Kano (BUK). The aim was to improve education, research and enabling academic environment for learning.
The project is being implemented under under the Energizing Education Programme (EEP). With the commissioning, a total of 55,815 students and 3,077 staff of BUK now have access to electricity supply from the university’s 7.1MW solar hybrid power project. The Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency (REA) is the implementing agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) tasked with electrification of unserved and underserved communities.
The Energizing Education Programme (EEP) is an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria to provide sustainable and clean power supply to 37 Federal Universities and 7 University Teaching Hospitals across Nigeria. The project includes the provision of an independent power plant, upgrading existing distribution infrastructure, street lighting to improve security within the universities’ campuses, as well as the development of a world-class training center on renewable energy for each university.
The event also featured the graduation of 20 female students who participated in the Female STEM Students Internship Programme. The female students, who received practical training in the course of the project construction were awarded certificates of completion. Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was a special guest on the occasion noted that the project was in tandem with President Buhari’s administration’s Next Level Roadmap and upholds the Federal Government’s adherence to global best practice in the provision of cleaner sources of energy. He reiterated that “the Energizing 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.
Elated Osinbajo who couldn’t hide his joy for scoring another first by unveiling the largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant in Africa said as Nigerians, “we should all be proud of enumerating the benefits of the project. 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.”
According to Osinbajo, policies and objectives under the Energizing Education Programme of the administration’s Next Level roadmap remain the same, as he reiterated that the ultimate goal was 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 creates the impact for Nigeria’s socio-economic growth,” he noted.
Osinbajo commended Ministries of Power and Environment for their policies and their implementations which has pushed the project thus far, the university management for their support, METKA contractor who made the project a reality as well as the Rural Electrification Agency under its managing director, Damilola Ogunbiyi and her dynamic team.
Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman who, coincidentally, is an alumnus of BUK expressed joy about the historic moment.According to him, “The Ministry’s power policy specifically targets education to ensure that all federal universities, to begin with, have access to reliable electricity. “Notably, the Energizing Education Programme (EEP) 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 EEP.”
Recalling that the EEP was conceptualized and approved by President Buhari in 2016, the minister said, “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.” Mamman seized the opportunity to commend the 20 participants of the Female STEM Internship Programme and implored them to be focused as Nigeria needs their newly acquired skills.