The European Union says it has so far committed over €700m for the development of sustainable energy in Nigeria and other ECOWAS countries from 2014 to 2020.
The Head of Cooperation, EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr Kurt Cornelis, said this in Abuja on Monday at a workshop on policy and regulation for clean energy mini-grids and renewable energy in ECOWAS region.
Cornelis said access to electricity and promotion of sustainable energy solutions were at the core of EU’s cooperation with the region, hence the provision of the grants to ECOWAS countries.
He said given the challenge in the electricity production, there was the urgent need to address the energy deficit, using the various energy mix in the region.
“We all know that the challenges are considerable; we also know that on-grid solutions alone cannot solve the problems and that the right mix of on grid and off-grid interventions has to be found.
Cornelis also said that there was the need to ensure a strong political will through the formulation and implementation of a solid regulatory and policy framework for the sector.
He said that a stable environment for trade and investment, improved capacities and necessary funding were required for the development of the sector.
He added that the EU, with partner countries and donor agencies, were committed to promoting renewable energy solutions to expand access to electricity in the region.
“The EU Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility is a good example of a multi-donor initiative established with the aim to promote coherent, effective and efficient European energy development cooperation.“
According to him, another 360 million euros was currently on the verge of being disbursed through a financial instrument called Africa Investment Facility (AFIF) to further improve energy and transportation in the ECOWAS.
He said there was the need for new partnerships to mobilise private resources and apply innovative financing models, noting that EU was also proposing an ambitions external investment plan.
This, he said, would require the full participation and partnership of the private sector.
“The EU is planning to mobilise considerable funding to support this trend and allow the private sector to invest in the area of renewable energies,“ he said.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said that Nigerian government was focused on improving power supply in the country.
Fashola, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Louis Edozie, said that the two subjects of renewable energy and mini grids were very important to the government of Nigeria.
He said the development of renewable energy and mini grids were important elements in improving electricity in Nigeria.
The minister said that the legal frame work for the takeoff of renewable energy and minigrid has been established in the country.
He said that the framework was designed to bring together, government, private developers , financiers, to improve power supply in the country.
Fashola also told participants that a regulatory frame work for the sector had also been established by the government.
“We have a regulator in place. and we have at least three important policies that are quite relevant,
“ The first is the independent electricity distribution network regulation policy which is well established in Nigeria, we have the mini grids regulation that is already established.
“The third regulatory framework is the directive that have been given by the minster that allows some customers to procure the power they want as an eligible customer, so this three policies are already established.“
According to him, what was required was the practical transactions on the already established polices by stakeholders .
“What we need is transactions based on this polices, and our observation is that that is the main impediment to this transaction right now.
“There is the need for regulators, financiers, lenders, off takers, project developers to see the benefits in the contractual agreements and regulatory agreements .
Fashola advised the participants to focus on measures to ensure the implementation of the contractual framework to unleash the creative energies in the renewable energies and mini grids .
He expressed hope that the workshop would evolve workable mechanisms to meet the contractual framework designed to develop renewable energy and mini grids in the ECOWAS region (