By NBF News

Ogun State Government is to invest in the provision of solar-powered electricity for 150 rural communities, the state Governor Ibukunle Amosun has said. Amosun who spoke at the inauguration of the solar energy project built by French firm, Schneider Electric in Asore, a rural community in Ogun State said rural electrification constituted one of the core targets set by his administration as part of efforts to stem the problem of unemployment and halt the rising rate of migration of indigenes in rural areas to urban areas in the state and outside as well as end an aging farming population.

'We have to halt the rural-urban migration in this state and also halt the aging farming population and create jobs by boosting rural infrastructure especially electricity and good roads,' Amosun said. He said the state was ready to partner with the private sector in the actualization of these targets and urged private investors to come forward and assist.

'We are totally committed to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) in projects that will help us stop the rural-urban drift,' said the governor adding that with the inauguration of the pilot scheme of the solar energy project in Asore, the state will be making additional investments to replicate the project in another 150 rural communities.

In his speech, Director-General, Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), Prof. Abdullahi Sambo said Nigeria can generate about 600,000megawatts of electricity if its vast renewable energy potentials are properly harnessed. Sambo, however said for that feat to be achieved, massive funds have to be invested in the acquisition and installation of allied infrastructure throughout the country. He also said hectares of land equally about one percent of country's landmass had to be set aside for the project.

Sambo said Nigeria was richly endowed with such renewable energy like solar, wind, biomass, biofuels and hydro potentials but faulted the failure of government and the private sector over the years to invest in tapping into these resources for power generation purposes.

'In Nigeria we can generate 600,000megawatts of electricity from solar energy,' Sambo said. 'The only challenge will be in the investments needed to acquire the solar panels because this will be more expensive than in any other source of power generation; but for anyone that takes the chance to invest, the reward will always come - the payback time will be about six years and the panels can last up to 20 years,' he added.

He said the funding challenge which had remained a major constraint to investment in renewable energy was recently addressed by the decision of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Bank of Industry (BOI) to provide funds for prospective investors in this sector.