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Bringing reliable electricity to rural communities in Nigeria

Over half of Nigeria’s population lives in rural areas without electricity

Eleven electricity distribution companies operate in the country and the grid is expanding to remote towns. But, more than 100 million Nigerians, out of a total population of 190 million, live in rural areas without access to electricity. Renewable energy can be a reliable and affordable source of electricity for rural communities. Traditionally, the government or foundations provided grants for installing:

  • a set of electricity generators interconnected to a distribution network that supplies electricity to a localised group of customers (mini-grids);
  • stand-alone photovoltaic systems for remote off-grid households (solar home systems)

Few private investors were attracted to the sector because it was hard for them to get information about the market and find qualified professionals with the skills required to install and maintain the equipment.

Attracting long-term private investment in renewable energy

In 2014, the EU launched the ‘Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP)’. With a contribution of €15.5 million, this programme successfully attracted private investment to set up independent power systems to provide electricity to small communities without the support of an electrical grid. A market worth €8 billion annually, according to the Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency (REA).

Since its creation, this public-private partnership has brought electricity to more than 10,000 households across five states in Nigeria. The programme is also helping the Nigerian authorities to put in place regulations that make doing business easier.

Staff working in one of the solar power plants supported by the EU project

Sustainable energy is one of the priority investment areas for the EU External Investment Plan (EIP). This ambitious new initiative provides expert advice to designing renewable energy projects that can attract public and private investment and support governments to enact reforms to make their countries more attractive to investors.

Three of the companies benefiting from this programme: GoSolarAfrica, ACOB Lighting Technology Limited and Havenhill Synergy Limited, explain how the NESP is improving the living conditions of disadvantaged people in Nigeria.

In figures

€15.5 million

EU contribution to the Nigerian Energy Support Programme


households which now have access to electricity with the support of the programme


states in Nigeria which the programme covers


new mini-grids constructed and operating


people expected to gain access to electricity in the second phase of the programme 

Outlook: 100,000 new connections

The NESP programme will provide electricity to 100,000 people in the second phase that started in 2019 by connecting to mini-grids across Nigeria.

“Cooperation with development partners such as the EU has helped to leap frog the bottle-necks to expanding renewable energy supplies,” Femi Oye, CEO, GoSolarAfrica.

Alexander Obiechina, CEO, ACOB Lighting Technology Limited said:

We saw that access to clean, affordable and reliable energy helps create jobs and deliver education and health care.

Olusegun Odunaiya, CEO, Havenhill Synergy Limited said: “the EIP will continue to make it less risky to invest in the renewable energy sector and attract more long-term investment”. This will create more jobs within the sector and ultimately help Nigeria to develop, allowing productive users like shop owners, welders or millers to benefit from reliable electricity in the future.

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