The Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency (REA), and RMI – a nonprofit organisation that advocates for a zero-carbon future have launched the Energizing Agriculture Program (EAP) which aims to stimulate the use of minigrids in agricultural productive uses (i.e., those that drive local economic growth) in Nigeria.
The EAP will run for the duration of three years with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, and will be supported by the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP).
Over the next three years, the EAP initiative will foster a pipeline of agriculture-energy projects that demonstrate the impact of collaborative development efforts across the energy and agriculture sectors. Across these activities, the EAP is designed to ensure local ownership of solutions and scaling by partnering widely and sharing insights broadly.
As part of the GEAPP’s broader efforts to bring reliable electricity to 1 billion people by decade’s end, avert 4 billion tons of greenhouse gases and enable 150 million green jobs that generate inclusive economic growth, the EAP will build on existing agriculture and electrification initiatives in Nigeria and then accelerate the deployment and adoption of the most effective solutions for rural communities across the country. The EAP will achieve this by bringing together teams of local partners to validate commercially led business models, demonstrate agricultural appliances and scale proven solutions.
Agricultural minigrids to stimulate economic growth
Agriculture is the economic backbone of rural Nigerian communities, where minigrids, small-scale electricity grids that can power a community independently, are often the least-cost electrification option. Experts estimate that Nigeria’s agricultural sector, which provides nearly one-quarter of the country’s GDP and employs two-thirds of the labor force, has the potential to generate $40 billion in exports. Using electricity to power opportunities like these can drive a virtuous cycle for rural development by increasing incomes and community resilience and improving the financial performance of the minigrid utility.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria has been very deliberate about leveraging strategic partnerships for optimum impact in off-grid communities across Nigeria. I am confident that the EAP is deliberately designed to open a whole new world of possibilities to farmers and artisans in the agricultural sector,” said Goddy Jedy-Agba, OFR, Minister of State, Nigerian Federal Ministry of Power.
“As the renewable energy space improves yearly, we have continued to keep a keen eye on the deployment of programs and solutions geared toward socioeconomic impact in unserved and underserved communities across Nigeria. The EAP is one of those programs,” Minister Jedy-Agba added.
Productive use of energy align with Nigeria’s development objectives
“This program encourages the productive use of energy to deepen our objective of organizing and managing the agricultural sector in Nigeria. Leveraging renewable energy technologies for productive use in off-grid communities greatly helps to strengthen production capacity of the average Nigerian farmer in rural communities. The EAP is in line with our mandate at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development toward strengthening agriculture and rural development across the country,” said Dr. Mohammed Mahmoud Abubakar, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“Catalyzing the productive use appliance market is a critical priority on the current REA strategy roadmap, designed to increase economic opportunities in off-grid communities. Beyond providing electricity to the unserved and the underserved, the ultimate goal for the REA is to make sure that the electricity impacts the communities both socially and economically, and agriculture is the chief activity that supports livelihoods in almost all rural communities. That is why we are going beyond powering residential communities to also focus on energizing their agricultural clusters as well,” said Engr. Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, managing director/CEO of REA.
“Addressing the energy deficit challenge in sub-Saharan Africa is fundamental to unlocking agricultural productivity, new income-generating activities and acceleration of global decarbonization efforts,” said Justin Locke, managing director of RMI’s Global South Program. “The EAP’s potential to electrify agricultural loads can catalyze scaling the adoption of decentralized renewable energy systems and spur local community development.”
Catalyzing sustainable economic growth
Supporting demand, jobs and small and medium enterprise growth by increasing agricultural productive use at minigrid sites is critical to uplifting low-income communities in Nigeria. The EAP will directly contribute to these efforts by deploying productive use appliances in rural communities and proving out business models to scale similar interventions at minigrid sites throughout Nigeria. Equipment like electric grain mills and cold storage can plug directly into existing agricultural value chains once electricity is available.
“Despite incredible advances in renewable energy technologies, we haven’t seen these innovations spread at the speed and scale needed to reach the communities most in need, especially in the agricultural sector,” said Joseph Nganga, executive director for Africa at the GEAPP. “The EAP will bring together farmer organizations, private agricultural companies, donors, equipment manufacturers and governments to surface innovations and embed them within existing value chains. If we are successful, some of these solutions will have wide uptake, helping to catalyze more equitable and sustainable economic development.”