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Inside Africa's largest solar plant

Source: 
The Nation

Things are not the same again at the Bayero University, Kano. Poor electricity supply to the campus has made students unable to study seamlessly.

The Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is struggling with power supply. One of its ways out is the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) through which electricity is provided to universities and rural communities. BUK is the latest beneficiary.

Last Tuesday, BUK became home to the largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant (7.1MW) in Africa. Residents, as well as students, were jubilant at the inauguration. Now, 55,815 students and 3,077 members of staff of the institution have access to electricity supply from the university's 7.1MW solar hybrid power project.

The project at Bayero University, Kano is the second to be inaugurated under Phase 1 of the Energising Education Programme (EEP) that will deliver clean and sustainable energy, using solar hybrid and/or gas-fired captive power plants. The inauguration at Bayero University, Kano included the launch of 11.41KM of street lighting as well as a world-class renewable training centre.

To realise the policy of training students in renewable energy, the rural electrification agency established what it called the Female Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Students Internship Programme where female students were trained in renewable energy.

At the inauguration of the BUK off-grid solar hybrid power plant, 20 female students who participated in the internship programme graduated. The female students, who received practical training during the course of the project construction, were awarded certificates of completion.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo noted that the programme aligned with the Buhari administration's Next Level Roadmap and upholds the Federal Government's adherence to global best practice in the provision of cleaner sources of energy.

He reiterated that 'the Energising Education Programme is strategic to fulfilling Nigeria's commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as it aims at reducing Nigeria's carbon footprint using renewable energy technologies, in line with the Federal Government's mandate and efforts to increase renewable energy.'

Osinbajo expressed his happiness over the unveiling of the largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant in Africa.

Enumerating the benefits of the project, he said: 'The installed 7.1MW decentralised solar hybrid power plant funded by the Federal Government's green bond will supply over 58,000 students and members of staff with clean, safe and reliable electricity. I am sure that the entire student body, management and members of staff of the Bayero University are proud to be beneficiaries of this, most especially as the only Federal University in Kano State and one of the longest-standing ones.

'As a result, students can now focus on their academics and vocational training in a safer and illuminated environment.

'This significant initiative upholds the Federal Government's adherence to global best practice, as we transit to cleaner sources of energy in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. These projects being implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) are strategic to fulfilling our commitments to the Agreement as they strive to reduce Nigeria's carbon footprint.

'The leveraging of renewable energy technologies is in line with the Federal Government's mandate and related activities. Nigeria's plans to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent unconditionally and 45 per cent with international support by 2030 aim at limiting the damaging effects of climate change.

'Our policies and objectives under the Energising Education Programme in this administration's Next Level roadmap remains the same. The ultimate goal is to increase access to modern technical education in safe and illuminated learning environments, empower the girl child and create jobs in the power sector value chain, among others.

'Thus far, this project created 182 energy-related jobs from power system engineers to electricians as well as trained 20 young female STEM students with the skills to contribute to strengthening our energy sector. It is initiatives such as this that creates an impact on Nigeria's socio-economic growth.'

Osinbajo commended ministries of Power and Environment, METKA, the Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency, Damilola Ogunbiyi and her team.

Minister of Power Sale Mammansaid he was delighted to be part of the historic moment.

Mamman commended the 20 participants of the Female STEM Internship Programme as they graduate, even as he implored them to be focused as Nigeria needs their skills to develop.

Ogunbiyi expressed her delight that the agency was able to inaugurate another university project, under Phase 1 of the Energising Education Programme at the Bayero University, Kano (BUK).

'The EEP project at BUK is the second to be inaugurated. The first was the 2.8MW solar hybrid plant at Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo Ebonyi State on August 2, 2019, It is noteworthy that Bayero University project with an installed capacity of 7.1MW, is the largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant in Africa.

'Another important component of this project is the Female STEM Internship Programme, where 20 BUK female students received training in the design and construction of the solar hybrid power plant. Under the tutelage of the solar developer, these women received hands-on field and classroom training through the course of this project's implementation.'

Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje said Kano State is committed to fostering technical and practical training. Therefore, the EEP programme is strategically aligned to the state level job creation and capacity building objectives.

'Now our students can study without ceasing without fear of power failure or insecurity on the university campus, thanks to the reliable electricity and installation of 11.4Km of streetlights across the campus.'

BUK Vice-Chancellor Prof. Muhammad Yahuza Bello said he was delighted about the history made by his institution.

'The Federal Government's EEP project could not have been implemented at a better time for BUK, where over 55,000 students and 3,000 members of staff will now experience teaching, learning and research in an environment that is safer with access to clean and reliable electricity..'

The Managing Director, METKA West Africa Limited, the EPC contractor, Mr. Evangelos Kamari said: 'The state-of-the-art solar hybrid power plant will result in carbon dioxide savings of 108,875,120Ibs, a feat we as green contractors are proud of.'

Dignitaries present at the landmark occasion were Mr. Goddy Jeddy-Agba, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Alhaji Nasiru Gawuna, Dr. Mohammad Mahmoud, Alhaji Sabo Nanono and Mrs. Nike Giwa.

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