Nigeria is seeking to make speedy inroad in the supply of stable electricity to her rural and semi-urban communities using renewable energy sources such as solar.
To this end, the federal government has embarked on a massive training of young Nigerians to install and maintain solar power facilities built under its Operation Light-up Rural Nigeria (OLRN), which aims at deploying solar technologies to address the power deficits in rural areas of the country.
In addition to the training on renewable energy technology, the government through the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) has also set up a training scheme for electricity meter technicians who are expected to be employed in meter installation and maintenance across the electricity distribution networks in the country.
Speaking at the recent inauguration of the two separate training schemes, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali, stated that Nigeria’s power sector reform was hinged on exploiting the various sources of energy within the country.
Igali noted that because of constant abuse of the estimated electricity billing methodology of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the government decided to train technicians that will install meters, undertake their reading and detect instances of by-pass to ensure a smooth running of the power industry.
“The power sector reform is hinged on utilisation of all the various sources of energy that God has given to Nigeria. If we are to maximise our energy mix, we won’t suffer so much of the impacts of vandalism, their impact will not be much on us because we will always have other alternatives to switch to. We must harness solar technology more than any other in this country,” Igali said.
On metering, he stated that: “Even when the light is not there, what people are meant to pay for is not commensurate to what they consume. And that brings a lot of anger among consumers who complain that they don’t get enough electricity but are billed very high.”
“This is as a result of the estimated billing system. For what they (power distribution companies) do is that they guess, based on the size of a house and approximate and charge you. So, the country is going to be embarking on a robust metering scheme."
Similarly, the Director General of NAPTIN, Reuben Okeke in his remarks stated that it was to curtail instances of job losses and unavailability of needed manpower in the OLRN initiative that the agency had to embark on the training scheme.
He explained: “As the government tries to encourage penetration through renewables, it is expected that there should be workers to do this and that is why the ministry instructed that we get young Nigerians to install and maintain such solar facilities.