Sustainability through solar in Nigeria


by Sumi Pascoe

Up to 49,000 homes across the country have already gained access to solar power in just three months with assistance from the Solar Nigeria Programme, funded by the Department for International Development (DfID).

The initiative helps suppliers provide homes across Nigeria access to plug-and-play solar systems. This emerging technology can enable the use of everything from single bright lamps through to full solar home-systems able to power multiple lights, a television and fan.

Now, 49,000 homes with access to solar power enjoy bright light and reliable energy, and can move away from more expensive and environmentally damaging sources such as kerosene and diesel generators. All of the solar power systems were provided on full commercial terms, with the householder paying cash, taking a loan, or renting the equipment. More than 14,000 of the newly powered homes benefitting are in Nigeria’s northern states, where grid deficiencies and the need for reliable power are the most acute.

The boost in solar provision represents a dramatic increase in Nigeria’s household solar market. In 2015, the estimated total market was approximately 130,000 units. Between January and March 2016, new homes connected as a result of the SolarNigeria initiative already matched more than 40% of that total. Despite the significant challenges of limited access to foreign exchange for importing solar, and the overall declining economic conditions in the country – this highlights that initiatives such as these are achievable.

SolarNigeria is helping solar vendors and financiers rapidly expand their capacity to reach households with solar solutions. Pilot programmes in 2015 provided capacity building grants of £1.5m to 16 companies. This year a financing pilot will provide £0.5m in grants to allow the option of commercial finance into the value chain for household scale solar light and power systems.

The solar systems were provided to households by companies supported by the SolarNigeria Programme which is helping millions of home access modern, clean, lighting and power at low costs. Leigh Vial, head of consumer markets for SolarNigeria, said: “Millions of Nigerian households could today save money while enjoying bright light and clean power using solar instead of kerosene lanterns and small generators. So why do they not already use it? They need someone trustworthy to make quality solar products available to them in their village, and they need to be able to pay for it over time. This requires capable companies to invest in the market, to reach the customers, and to enable financing.”

A number of banks, micro finance banks, and solar pay-as-you-go specialists will be invited to apply. Following these pilots, DfID has approved an additional £16.7m for SolarNigeria to help scale the market for solar home lighting and power in Nigeria through to 2020, enabling millions of Nigerian households to experience reliable power for the very first time.

Adam Smith International is implementing SolarNigeria on behalf of the UK's Department for International Development. To find out more click here.