By Ejiofor Alike
Four Nigerian companies have emerged winners of the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge sponsored by General Electric (GE), the United States Africa Development Foundation (USADF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with each of the four companies receiving a grant of $100,000.
The companies - Ginphed Nigeria Limited, Quintas Renewable Energy Solutions, Sky Resources and Topstep Nigeria, all submitted entries on how renewable energy resources can be deployed to power socio-economic activities within communities in Nigeria that are not connected to the country’s national grid.
The Nigerian companies joined 18 other grant winners from Liberia, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya. Over 300 entries were received across the continent.
Ginphed Nigeria, a company based in Cross River State, emerged as one of the winners with its innovative solution to the Ginphed Farm’s energy needs.
By constructing a bio-digester to convert animal manure into biogas to be used for electricity generation for cottage industries in the surrounding communities, Ginphed is successfully putting an end to the electricity challenge of that community.
Quintas Renewable Energy Solutions is solving the challenge of access to grid energy in the Ofosu community of Ondo State, which lacks access to grid electricity, but has a strong local farming industry.
The company plans to develop a 500 kilowatt biomass power plant which will take advantage of the community’s agricultural and forestry residue, including sawdust from the four area sawmills that currently rely on expensive diesel for power.
The new power plant will include a steam turbine, generator, and gasifier with a combustor, and the electricity will be paid for through pre-paid meters.
On its part, Sky Resources Limited, is promoting renewable energy technologies for the Nawgu community of Anambra State through a solar-powered micro grid.
The community is not connected to the national electricity grid and grid extension is unlikely for some time.
Over 75 micro- businesses are expected to benefit from this initiative, and the $100,000 grant could extend the number of beneficiaries even further.
Topstep Nigeria, with its focus on renewable energy and energy conservation, is catering for the needs of Babban Gona Agricultural Franchise in Kaduna State.
The outfit is a 2,000 member strong farmer cooperative located in the Makarfi and Ikara Local Government Areas of Kaduna State.
In order for the member farmers to increase their income, they need to increase market value of their produce by adding value to their produce through post-harvest processing.
Currently, they do not have access to reliable electricity.
Topstep is addressing this constraint by expanding the current solar maize mill processing station.
The project is increasing the existing processing capacity to 1,400 metric tonnes of maize per year by installing five processing stations located near the farmers’ fields. Speaking at the elaborate event, held on Tuesday night in Lagos, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Hon. James F. Entwistle commended GE and partners for making practical efforts to bring the Power Africa initiative to life in the continent.
He said the fact that some communities were already benefitting from this effort in Nigeria and Kenya was very fulfilling for the US government. The ambassador called on the winners for the year to make judicious use of the $100,000 grant in impacting on their respective communities.
GE Africa’s Global Supply Chain Leader, Mr. Phil Griffith, said GE was very impressed with the quality of the projects and the thinking that has gone into them.
“This further validates our belief that adequate investment in human capital is a key driver of socio-economic growth anywhere in the world,” he said.