Nigeria’s largest investment in solar power is part of the country’s Covid economic recovery plan. The project, Solar Power Naija, is also a step towards solving one of Nigeria’s biggest problems: a lack of reliable electricity. Under the Paris Climate Agreement, Nigeria has pledged to cut carbon emissions 20% by 2030. To get there, it aims to generate 30% of its energy from renewables. To make progress, 10% of the government’s 2.3-trillion naira of spending to spur recovery from the pandemic will be used to install 5-million solar home systems. The aim is to provide electricity to 25-million people in rural communities that now have no access to the grid. With Solar Power Naija, the government is aiming to fix the development problems that a lack of access to electricity has created, as well as the pollution that fuel-powered generators, one of the most popular power sources, cause. The rollout will focus on building stand-alone connections, which use solar panels to charge batteries that can then be used at any time, and mini-grids, which operate in a similar way but can service larger needs. Both will function separately from the national grid. The project will also give bidders from across the industry low-interest government loans instead of contracts or grants to finance the equipment and construction — a departure from Nigeria’s normal approach to electrification. Companies will repay what they’ve borrowed with income from customers.
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