By Victor Uzoho
The Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency (REA), has partnered with RMI, an independent non-profit organisation, to launch the Energising Agriculture Programme (EAP).
This aims to catalyse economic development and improve rural livelihoods in Nigeria through linking mini-grids and agricultural productivity.
The EAP, which was launched yesterday in Abuja, is a three-year initiative of the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), with funding from The Rockefeller Foundation.
GEAPP aims to stimulate the use of mini-grid electricity in agricultural productive uses, to drive growth of the local economy.
According to the groups, the EAP focuses on enabling market-led solutions and breaking the barriers separating electrification and agricultural development.
The organisations said over the next three years, the initiative will foster a pipeline of agriculture-energy projects that demonstrate the impact of collaborative development efforts across the energy and agriculture sectors.
Leveraging renewable energy technologies for productive use in off-grid communities greatly helps to strengthen the production capacity of the average Nigerian farmer in rural communities.
As part of the GEAPP’s broader efforts, EAP will build on existing agriculture and electrification initiatives in Nigeria, to accelerate the deployment and adoption of effective solutions for rural communities across the country.
This will bring reliable electricity to one billion people by the decade’s end, avert 4 billion tons of greenhouse gases, and enable 150 million green jobs that generate inclusive economic growth.
Speaking at the programme launch, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Mahmoud Abubakar, said EAP tallies with the mandate of the Ministry toward strengthening agriculture and rural development across the country.
“This programme encourages the productive use of energy to deepen our objective of organising and managing the agricultural sector in Nigeria.
“Leveraging renewable energy technologies for productive use in off-grid communities greatly helps to strengthen the production capacity of the average Nigerian farmer in rural communities,” Abubakar stated.
Remarking, the Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba, said the Federal Government has been very deliberate about leveraging strategic partnerships for optimum impact in off-grid communities across Nigeria.
He expressed confidence that EAP is designed to open a new world of possibilities to farmers and artisans in the agricultural sector.
“As the renewable energy space improves yearly, we have continued to keep a keen eye on the deployment of programmes and solutions geared toward socioeconomic impact in unserved and underserved communities across Nigeria. The EAP is one of those programmes,” Jedy-Agba said.
Addressing the energy deficit challenge in sub-Saharan Africa is fundamental to unlocking agricultural productivity, new income-generating activities, and acceleration of global decarbonisation efforts.
On his part, the Managing Director/CEO of REA, Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, said catalysing the productive use of the appliance market was a critical priority on the Agency’s strategy roadmap, designed to increase economic opportunities in off-grid communities.
He noted that beyond providing electricity to the unserved and the underserved, REA’s ultimate goal is to ensure that electricity impacts the communities socially and economically, adding that agriculture is the chief activity that supports livelihoods in almost all rural communities.
“That is why we are going beyond powering residential communities to also focus on energizing their agricultural clusters as well,” Ahmad said.
Also commenting, the Managing Director, RMI’s Global South Programme, Justin Locke, said supporting demand, jobs and small and medium enterprise (SME’s) growth by increasing agricultural productive use of mini-grid sites is critical to uplifting low-income communities in Nigeria.
“Addressing the energy deficit challenge in sub-Saharan Africa is fundamental to unlocking agricultural productivity, new income-generating activities, and acceleration of global decarbonisation efforts.
“The EAP’s potential to electrify agricultural loads can catalyse scaling the adoption of decentralised renewable energy systems and spur local community development,” Locke noted.
On his part, the Executive Director for Africa at the GEAPP, Joseph Nganga, said the initiative will bring together farmer organisations, private agricultural companies, donors, equipment manufacturers and governments to surface innovations and embed them within existing value chains.