Nigeria missing out on $861.5m French pledge to solar alliance

Energy Worth with Agency Report

Nigeria is yet to ratify the alliance framework of International Solar Alliance (ISA), as developing countries who have signed and ratified the alliance framework stand to benefit from French pledges of $861.5 million.

France says the money will go into funding solar projects in developing countries, according to President Emmanuel Macron, after pledging the investment on Sunday, March 18.

ISA, an inter-governmental organization that aims to mobilize $1 trillion in funds for future solar generation, storage and technology across the world, has 60 signatories with 30 of those countries having ratified the agreement.

Countries such as Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Mali and Peru are among developing members countries who are expected to benefit from the alliance having signed and ratified the ISA Framework Agreement.

Despite being a signatory to the alliance, Nigeria is yet to ratify the framework which has being opened for signature since 15th November 2016 and that may limit Abuja’s chances of benefiting from solar.With a population of 190 million only about 40 per cent of the people are connected to the energy grid; Nigeria still fails to take advantage of diverse opportunities available in solar energy which provides an alternative and long term cost effective source of power for homes, especially for areas where the national electricity grid is unable to reach.

Inadequate supply of electricity is unarguably one of the major problems militating against Nigeria’s socio-economic development as its use is directly correlated with healthy economic growth.

Although, Nigeria holds ample crude oil reserves. The lack of available energy has made it difficult for Nigeria to help its poorer citizens participate in the country’s economic boom.

Interestingly, the country has abundant supply of sunshine. On the average, Nigeria has at least eight hours of sunshine which is the major raw material for an effective solar system.

In December 2017, Ministry of Power, Works and Housing proposed N10 billion solar powered streetlight projects in 37 federal universities and seven teaching hospitals aimed at boosting effective learning, innovation and advancement through uninterrupted power supply to the institutions, however, the project is yet too materialised due to legislative and executive face off.

Despite the government lapses, the private sector is playing a great role in solar energy projects.

In February this year, privately-owned Rubitec Nigeria Ltd commissioned N200million solar hybrid mini grid for Gbamugbamu village, Ijebu east central LCDA capable of providing power for over 3,500 residents of the community.

“The project is not a contract, but an investment by the company supported by the Ogun State government, Nigeria Energy Support Programme (NESP), European Union, and United States Agency for International Development (USAID),” Bolade Soremekun the company’s CEO explained during the launching of the event.

“It is a N200 million investment comprising 50 percent grant from GIZ, 39 grant loan from Bettervest of Germany, and 11 percent equity from Rubitec Nigeria Ltd. It is by such investment that mini grid projects can be sustainable. The project must earn profit for its investors, pay back its loans, and justify the grants that come from EU tax payers’ funds,” Soremekun said.

France had already committed $300 million to the initiative when it co-founded with India a global alliance in 2015 to unlock new cash for solar projects in sunny yet poor nations.

ISA is conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich countries to address their special energy needs and will provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.The treaty-based organization, launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, aims to promote solar energy in 121 countries. Speaking at the conference, Macron said France was more than tripling its commitment to the alliance, and its total monetary contribution to the alliance stood at one billion euros.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has committed to reducing India’s sizeable carbon footprint through a massive scale-up in renewable energy said it was vital that nations were not priced out.

“We have to make sure that a better and cost-effective solar technology is available to all,” Modi told the gathering of investors and world leaders from about 20 mainly African nations.India, the world’s third-largest polluter, is undergoing spectacular growth in its solar sector and is on track to become one of the world’s largest clean energy markets.

It pledged at the Paris climate summit in 2015 to source at least 40 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030, mainly via solar.The energy-hungry giant of 1.25 billion people is banking on solar to electrify homes for hundreds of millions of its poorest citizens without adding to its considerable emissions output.

France and India hope the alliance will spur $1 trillion in new solar spending by 2030 in 121 countries lacking investment in the sector.These countries have “the paradox of being the sunniest in the world while enjoying the least solar energy,” said Ségolène Royal, a former French minister in India as a special envoy for the alliance.

Earlier in December, Macron had warned that the global shift to a green energy future was too slow, said France would extend an extra €700 million ($861.5 million) through loans and donations by 2022 for solar projects in emerging economies.Macron told world leaders in Paris in December that “we are losing the battle” against climate change and urged faster action to combat global warming.

ISA plans not to duplicate or replicate the efforts that others (like International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), International Energy Agency (IEA), Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), United Nations bodies, bilateral organizations etc.) are currently engaged in, but will establish networks and develop synergies with them and supplement their efforts in a sustainable and focused manner.