As part of its efforts towards transforming Nigeria’s power and energy sector, the Federal Government has laid the foundation for the establishment of the first solar cell production factory in West Africa. The landmark achievement which places Nigeria among countries adopting alternative energy sources, will also transform Nigeria’s power and energy sector and boost the local economy. This was stated on Friday by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, as he performed the foundation laying ceremony for the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) Solar Cells Production Plant in Gora, Nasarawa State. Prof. Osinbajo stated that “this landmark achievement places Nigeria within the ranks of countries pushing the boundaries in the use of climate-smart alternative energy sources, particularly solar power. And as we have heard, this particular project is building on 10 years of work. 10years ago, NASENI established its 7.5mw solar panel production plant. Its capacity is now 21MW.”
Highlighting the importance of Solar cells to the entire solar energy value chain, the Vice President observed that “NASENI’s solar cell production factory in Nigeria will be a game-changer, given the urgency of climate action today and the importance of developing African green energy manufacturing and solutions.” The VP, who linked the historic development with the Federal Government’s proactive steps in ensuring adequate funding for NASENI, stated that this is a new dispensation for the government agency. With one per cent allocation from the federation account annually as prescribed by its founding law, Prof. Osinbajo was of the view that NASENI has been given the financial backing to “execute its mandate of delivering technological and innovative interventions across critical sectors of the economy, including Agriculture, Health, Defence and Security, Power and Energy, Financial Services, Solid Minerals, Additive Manufacturing, Smart Fabrications, Factories, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and Virtual Manufacturing.” He added that, “for over 10 years, NASENI has been consistent in championing solar power as an alternative to hydro and fossil power sourcing. And it was to this end that the agency established NASENI Solar Energy Limited (NSEL) in Karshi, Federal Capital Territory, with a mandate to deliver alternative solar energy to homes and businesses in Nigeria.
The development and maturity of the Naseni Solar Energy Ltd whose operations have been driven with the vim and zest of a tech start-up, forecasted an increase in local content of the solar energy production system in Nigeria, leading to ever-increasing production of solar cells.” Pointing out that $50 billion worth of diesel fuel is used yearly, with diesel generators producing more energy than the entire energy grid in 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Prof. Osinbajo observed that “the resultant emissions of carbon monoxide has since become a major and worrying source of pollution. In Nigeria, for example, generator emissions are equivalent to emissions from all of the country’s 11 million cars put together. Emphasising that this method was clearly unsustainable and required a significant shift, the VP stated that this was the reason why Nigeria developed its Energy Transition Plan, the first in Africa. According to him, the Plan, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council last year “sets out our pathway to decarbonisation by 2060 and achieving universal energy access by 2030.
The Nigeria Energy Transition Plan projects an increase in the use of solar power in the Nigerian energy mix, surpassing even gas by 2035,” he added. Coupled with the foundation now laid for the solar cell factory in Nasarawa, Nigeria’s efforts in adopting innovation is consistent with the African Union’s energy transition plan, the VP pointed out, noting that the factory came at a crucial time. “Not only is the beneficiation model it has adopted innovative and consistent with the African Union’s energy transition plan in the face of global warming, its output, at full operational capacity, will further impact the solar energy value chain in Nigeria through the low production costs of solar panels. In due course, this will in turn attract new investment, local and foreign, for the establishment of solar panel manufacturing plants across Nigeria,” he said. He also commended the siting of the factory in Gora, Nasarawa State which he said is “the home of solid minerals in Nigeria.”
According to the VP, “the major raw material requirements for the production of Solar cells – silicon and silica – are naturally occurring in abundance in this area. We are grateful to the good people of Nasarawa for hosting this important project and congratulate you in advance for the positive boost it is certain to bring to the local economy.” The VP congratulated the government and the people of Nasarawa State, as well as the NASENI leadership led by its executive Vice Chair, Engr. Prof, MS Haruna, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the Chairman of the governing board. “I congratulate NASENI on the leadership role it has played in bolstering our national Science, Technology, and Innovation ecosystem, and commend the agency for its transformational advances across the country,” Prof. Osinbajo stated, adding that its “leadership has launched Naseni into a new phase of accelerated progress.” On laying the foundation of the pioneer solar cell production factory, the Vice President expressed optimism that “it will meet and surpass all our expectations when it becomes fully operational.”
In his remarks, Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, thanked the Vice President for his concern towards the development of the State, country and the welfare of its people. According to him, the VP has had occasion to visit the homes of vulnerable people, who believed that there is nothing else for them, saying, “you had the time to go into their homes and give them hope. Such people, with the hope you have given them will never, ever forget you. We also in Nasarawa State knowing that you touched lives, will never forget you, we remain grateful to you, sir, in office and out of office.”
“In area of promoting agriculture, you are there, you have partnered with us; in the area of promoting health, you were there to commission our diagnostic centre in Lafia… When we have condolences, you are the first to visit. Mr. Vice President, we are forever grateful to you. This is the best we have seen ever in the history of Nasarawa State.” On his part, the Emir of Lafia, HRH, Justice Sidi Bage (Rtd), thanked the Vice President for his selfless service and contribution to the development of Nasarawa State and Nigeria at large, noting that the government and people of the State hold him (the VP) in very high esteem. According to the Emir, “you are a worthy captain of our State and we have in turn demonstrated this in fact and in deed. We told our governor that our captain must be our number one priority in anything that we are doing in this country, outside of the President, the Vice President is our priority. Mr Vice President, we cannot express our gratitude for the kind of love that you continue to show Nasarawa State.
“There is no other State in the country that you have visited more than Nasarawa State, particularly in the North. No matter how small that project, programme or whatever it is that we are doing here, Mr Vice President will always be with us in Nasarawa State. I want to pledge that this bond between us, on behalf of our people, I promise we will keep this bond going, in or out of office. You remain the captain of this State and I will continue to honour this pledge on behalf of our people.” Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna paid glowing tributes to the VP for his support to the actualisation of the agency’s objectives and targets. He said most of what have been achieved by NASENI in recent times have been on account of the VP’s wise counsel and innovative ideas, stating that groundbreaking solar cell manufacturing plan t was a reality on account of Prof. Osinbajo’s personal commitment. Dignitaries at the event included the APC National Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Emir of Lafia HRM Justice Sidi Dauda Bage, and the Emir of Keffi, Dr Shehu Chindo Yamusa III, among others.