Nigerian Universities to Sport Africa’s Largest Off-Grid Solar Hybrid Programme

  • With over half of Nigeria’s population under the age of eighteen, the future of the nation lies with its youth.
  • Empowering this majority demographic is at the centre of the Rural Electrification Agency’s (REA) mandate, which brought to life the Energising Education Programme (EEP).

The EEP’s responsibility to Nigeria’s youth is matched by its ambition. The project aims to light up 37 universities and seven teaching hospitals when completed. To date, a third of the planned 89.6MW generating capacity has been installed, bringing power to over 159,000 staff and students.

With a burgeoning aspirational and educated young population, electricity shortages continue to be a huge hindrance on students and young entrepreneurs. For the country’s tech scene, the continent’s largest, and a significant contributor to GDP, this is a priority area of development.

Damilola Ogunbiyi, MD and CEO of REA, commented: “The benefits of the Energising Education Programme are immeasurable, as improving the quality of education and ensuring safe and conducive learning environments, through access to reliable power, training centres and streetlights, would result in the churning out of excellent graduates, thus the multiply effects on all facets of society.”

Spanning four cities, nine Nigerian universities and one teaching hospital, the EEP is Africa’s largest offgrid solar hybrid energy project.

Spanning four cities, nine universities and one teaching hospital, the EEP is Africa’s largest offgrid solar hybrid energy project. The 7.1MW capacity is fed by 10,680 solar panels and Systems Sunlight has been a key partner in realising the early ambitions of the EEP.

The Greek technology company is amongst the world’s most innovative battery manufacturers. Technology agnostic, the company views industrial electrification from a wide vantage. This open-mindedness has lent to its continuously expanding global footprint, of which Africa will play an instrumental role.

As a strategic energy storage provider, Systems Sunlight facilitated the provision of 5,760 components, including 30 high-spec battery sets.

Where learners had previously been plunged in darkness, having to study by candlelight or stay indoors after nightfall, they can study more comfortably in the dormitories or go visit friends, under the safety of 2,800 street lights.

With the first phase on line, the next stage in the EEP will break ground this year (2021), expanding with it the benefits brought to the thousands of students at Nigerian universities.

According to the World Bank, a lack of electricity can reduce a person’s chances of finding a job by 41%. With one in two youth unemployed, the EEP may just be the spark the young population needs.

The company’s senior area sales manager, Dimitri Panagiotou, said: “Their [the offgrid hybrid project’s]innovative design ensures long power cycles, reduced maintenance efforts and cost, as well as high safety standards. To achieve all this, Sunlight provided extensive technical information to navigate a complex installation process.”

This involvement signifies the company’s global outreach and acknowledgement of Africa as a key growth market for them. CEO Lampros Bisalas, commented: “Africa is important to our global expansion. With our growing regional expertise, we are well-positioned in a corner of the world which is expected to see the largest increase in demand for electricity.”

This positive impact resonates with Sunlight’s outlook. The company’s vision of a greener, more sustainable future aims to capture benefits and improve livelihoods for whomever its products cross paths with

Author: Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl

This article was originally published on ESI Africa and is republished with permission with minor editorial changes.

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