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W’Bank silent on regions that’ll gain from N107.4bn rural electrification loan

The World Bank had last month, announced the provision of a $350m loan (N107.4bn at the official exchange rate of N307 to a dollar) for the development of rural electrification projects in Nigeria, but was economical with words on which region the project will go to.

Besides, the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), the implementing organisation of the Federal Government that would be in charge of the loan also kept sealed lips on which regions’ rural communities will gain from the World Bank assistance.

It would be recalled that the World Bank had been in a messy imbroglio over the revelation made by the managing director at the recently concluded World Bank summit in US, saying president Muhammadu Buhari had on going into office mandated World Bank to face the Northern Nigeria for massive development.,

Though the presidency struggled to give the World Bank chief’s revelation a different and diversionary narrative, many Nigerians from other parts of the country expressed disappointment on the revelation.

Besides checks by some national media outfits within the period of the revelation showed serious skewedness of World Bank projects in favour of the north.

On the reason behind the approved fund for rural electrification, the bank stated that 80 million people in Nigeria were without access to electricity, while about 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa did not have power supply in their various communities.

Explaining more at the ongoing ‘Action Learning Event on Upscaling Mini Grids for Low-cost and Timely Access to Electricity’ in Abuja, the Country Director for Nigeria, World Bank, Rachid Benmessaoud, said the $350m loan was given to the government, but noted that a lot of the fund would go to the private sector.

Explaining how the $350m loan will be managed, the Managing Director, REA, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, said $100m out of the total sum would be dedicated to mini grid development.

According to her, 10,000 mini grids were being targeted by the agency, adding that when completed, the grids would generate about 3,000 megawatts of off-grid electricity.

“The total loan amount for the electrification programme is $350m, of which $100m of that is going to be dedicated to mini grid development. As for the total quantum of electricity being targeted with the 10,000 mini grids, we are trying to achieve 3,000MW.

“Some sites could be 150 kilowatts, some others 20KW, but 10,000 (mini grids) is just a guide because people always need figures when we need to drive something home. So it could be less than that, but if we can achieve 3,000MW on off-grid, which will be close to the power generated on-grid, we will be very happy.”

She failed to list states that will be part of the new deal.