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SPECIAL REPORT

Empowering Africa’s Youth: Celebrating the First Anniversary of the African Youth Congress

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Today, on February 11, 2024, the African Youth Congress (AYC), the largest youth movement on the African continent with chapters spanning across all African countries, marks its first anniversary. A beacon of hope for Africans, the AYC stands as an independent organization founded by passionate African youths committed to restoring the dignity of the black race. The mission of the AYC is to promote positive behavior, normative conduct, and racial equality across the continent.

In acknowledgment of Africa’s prolonged struggle, characterized by chaos and influenced by historical subjugation, the AYC pledges to address issues perpetuated by leaders colluding with external forces. These issues include fostering ethnic discord, tribalism, religious fanaticism, racism, xenophobia, and economic disarray.

During an extended meeting held on Wednesday, comprising continental, chapter, and coordinator executives, AYC members reaffirmed their commitment to taking extraordinary measures to eliminate hostilities and reclaim what rightfully belongs to Africa.

“Our emergence aims to instigate substantive change, diversify policies, and positively impact educational programs and services,” stated Arthur Wisdom, Continental Leader and President of the African Youth Congress, during an interview via WhatsApp Video call.

Advocating for a UNITED STATE OF AFRICA, the AYC envisions a cohesive continent in economics, social welfare, and decision-making. “Our focus is on constructive growth, emphasizing the dignity of labor and positive African development,” remarked Alex Mfolomo, African Youth Congress Continental Mobilizer.

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Diligently striving for a divine government in Africa, the AYC rejects the cosmic joke narrative, urging collective efforts for lasting change. “We refuse to watch the continuous manipulations of Africa. AYC embraces the responsibility of working towards a better Africa for present and future generations,” asserted Bassey Nton Nton, African Youth Congress Continental Media Team Manager.

In the 21st century, the AYC recognizes the pivotal role of African youths in democratic governance. “Their active participation is not just necessary for power balance but essential for Africa’s holistic growth. We call upon leaders to refrain from exploiting Africa, threatening peace, unity, and progress,” emphasized Sunganani Ngwira, AYC International Chief Executive Officer.

AYC’s Mission and Vision

Mastery Media uncovers that the African Youth Congress is not a political group but a pressure group seeking and promoting the liberation of Africans. Addressing African youth inequality among their counterparts, the AYC advocates for the healthy utilization of African natural resources and emphasizes African independence from reliance on the Western world.

Rejecting bribery, corruption, and the embezzlement of African resources, the AYC stands against bad leadership and disunity promoted by self-serving politicians. Its primary objective is to unite Africa and break free from perfidious leaders and external influences destabilizing the continent.

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AYC’s Three Vital Steps for Freedom

Engage in campaigns, activism, and social media activities to mobilize African youths into the AYC movement.
Participate in political activities to challenge and reform the current government in Africa.
Establish tutorial classes in real and virtual communities for interaction, information sharing, idea exchange, and implementing lasting solutions for challenges in Africa.
AYC’s Mission Statement:

The mission of the African Youth Congress is to unite and empower people of African descent worldwide, fostering solidarity, cultural preservation, and socioeconomic progress. We strive for the eradication of systemic injustices, the promotion of Pan-African unity, and the realization of a prosperous and equitable future for all African diaspora communities.

AYC’s Vision Statement:

The African Youth Congress envisions a world where people of African descent, irrespective of their geographical location, stand united and proud of their heritage. We aspire to eliminate racial discrimination, poverty, and inequality through Pan-Africanism, creating a prosperous, inclusive, and harmonious community that honors African culture, history, and contributions.

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Motto:
Africa, We Build.

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SPECIAL REPORT

Bola Aganaba @60: A Legacy of Impact, Faith, and Generosity

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Bola Aganaba at 60

Bola Aganaba, a man of exceptional character, dedication, and commitment to excellence, celebrates his 60th birthday. With a decade-long career as a civil engineer and pastor, he has not only left an indelible mark on Nigeria’s infrastructure development but also touched countless lives through his kindness, generosity, and unwavering faith. As we honour his milestone birthday, Senator Iroegbu weaves the threads of his remarkable life, which has built bridges, left footprints of love, and strengthened faith.

 

A Tapestry of Integrity, Kindness, and Unwavering Faith

In a world where perfection is elusive, Pastor Bola Aganaba stands out as a rare gem who excels in multiple realms of life. As we celebrate Aganaba’s milestone 60th birthday, we honour a man who has not only excelled in his family and profession but also his spirituality and societal duties. This rare feat is a testament to his exceptional character, dedication, and commitment to excellence.

 

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With a career spanning a decade as a civil engineer at the Federal Ministry of Works, Aganaba has not just left an indelible mark, but a legacy on Nigeria’s infrastructure development. His contributions to road maintenance and safety are not just well-documented, but a source of immense pride. As a devoted husband, father, and pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), he has touched countless lives with his kindness, generosity, and unwavering faith.  Having recently retired from the Federal Civil Service at age 60, his contributions to national development and life of impact and service are rightfully honoured.

From the first encounter, it is evident that Aganaba wears no masks. His honesty is refreshing—a beacon in a world often clouded by pretence. He speaks his mind, stands by his convictions, and means every word. His transparent heart shines like a polished gem in a world of guile. Aganaba’s family tree sprawls like an ancient oak, its branches reaching far and wide. But he doesn’t merely embrace blood relations; he extends his arms to friends, acquaintances, and anyone who crosses his path, especially members of his congregation. His home is not just a sanctuary, but a haven where warmth and laughter flow freely. Once you are part of his orbit, you are forever welcomed.

James Bond may have shaken martinis, but the engineer-turned-clergyman stirs life with unyielding calmness. Challenges come and go, and storms rage, yet he remains anchored. Living a Christlike life is embedded in his ethos. As Jesus assured his worried disciples during a stormy boat ride, Aganaba’s faith always whispers, “God is in control,” and he lives it. The wrinkles of worry never etch his brow; instead, he wears a perpetual smile—the kind that defies life’s storms.

Behold Bola Aganaba—the man who defies time. His style transcends mere fashion; it’s an attitude of perpetual youth. With each passing year, he insists he’s a year younger, and the mirror obliges. As a man thinketh in his heart, he remains—a testament to the power of positive self-perception.

Bola Olotu Aganaba is a name that resonates with dedication, resilience, and unwavering commitment. Born on May 18, 1964, in the vibrant city of Kaduna, Nigeria, his life journey has been remarkable. He hails from Odi in the Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government area of Bayelsa State and is the youngest of seven siblings, with four sisters and two brothers. On September 16, 2000, he married Anita Aganaba, and their union produced one child, Charmaine Aganaba.

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A Journey of Excellence and Service

Aganaba resonates with honesty, generosity, and an unshakable spirit. As we celebrate his 60th birthday, let us weave together the threads of his remarkable life—a life that has touched hearts, built bridges and left footprints of love.

A firm foundation on education and sportsmanship

Bola Aganaba stood out from his early years. His academic brilliance was matched only by his unwavering character and sporting prowess. Aganaba’s educational voyage began at the Elizabeth Fowler Memorial Primary School in Surulere, Lagos, where he imbibed the values of discipline and curiosity. His secondary education at Baptist Academy Lagos further shaped his character, laying the groundwork for an excellent future.

Pursuing knowledge, he embarked on a path that led him to the Rivers State University of Science & Technology (RSUST). He honed his intellect here, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1987. But Bola was not merely a scholar; he was also a sportsman. His excellence extended to the hockey field, football pitch, and track and field events, where he proudly represented RSUST. Representing his school and Lagos State in hockey, he left an indelible mark. His talent extended to the athletic field, where he excelled in the long jump—a skill that could have taken him to international heights had he pursued it further. His love for football remains undiminished. Whether playing or watching, the beautiful game stirs his soul. But beyond sports, his compassion knows no bounds. He despises injustice and champions the cause of those who suffer.

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A career forged across Nigeria

Aganaba is a road warrior, and his professional journey mirrors the diverse landscapes of Nigeria itself. As a civil engineer, he crisscrossed the nation, ensuring that Nigerian roads were motorable and leaving his mark in states such as Lagos, Sokoto, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Kano, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). His work ethic and expertise caught decision-makers attention, leading to his appointment as the first Chief Maintenance Engineer for Rivers State under the then-newly established Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) in June 2003.

Aganaba’s trajectory didn’t stop there. In July 2009, he ascended to Executive Director (East Operations), a testament to his leadership and vision. His contributions to infrastructure development reverberated far beyond the highways he meticulously maintained. His goal was clear: to make a difference wherever he found himself.

Remarkably, his tenure in the Federal Ministry of Works was more than a job; it was a calling. His exemplary service to the nation reverberated through the highways he meticulously maintained. However, his role as the first Chief Maintenance Engineer for Rivers State under FERMA showcased his commitment. Notably, he ensured that the road leading to the Federal Government College Odi remained impeccable—a gesture that endeared him to the people of Odi.

His integrity was unshakable. Contractors marvelled at his refusal to accept bribes, preserving the family’s reputation. Aganaba’s benevolence extended beyond bloodlines; he touched lives within and outside the family. His heart radiated love, compassion, and generosity, leaving an indelible mark on those fortunate to cross his path.

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A beacon of faith, family, and community

Beyond engineering, Aganaba’s heart beats for service. He served for years in the Follow-up and Evangelism Department of RCCG Kings Palace, Port Harcourt. His diligence and commitment earned him the endearing moniker of the “Kingfisher”—a symbol of tireless effort in church planting committees. Rural parishes in Rivers State owe their existence to his unwavering dedication.

Since December 2014, Pastor Aganaba has been the guiding force behind RCCG Holy Ghost Arena in Utako, Abuja. His pastoral role extends beyond the pulpit; it permeates the lives of those who seek solace and inspiration within those hallowed walls.

Aganaba’s ministry transcends pulpits. He’s a soul winner in the marketplace—a living epistle read by all. His faith isn’t a Sunday garment; it’s woven into every step he takes. As a pastor, he doesn’t merely preach; he lives the message. His heart beats for lost souls, and his hands reach out to lift the fallen. His life is a living sermon—a testament to God’s grace.

More importantly, Aganaba’s personal life is a canvas painted with love and family bonds. He shares his days with Mrs. Anita Aganaba, his partner in life’s journey. Together, they are blessed with a daughter named Charmaine Aganaba.

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As a husband to Anita, a senior executive at the giant oil firm ENI Nigeria, and a father to Charmaine, Aganaba exemplifies love in action. His unwavering commitment to God and family sets a high standard. Anita’s words echo the sentiment shared by all who know him: “He is an extraordinary, loving, selfless, kind, humble, unassuming, generous soul, totally sold out to God.” Bola’s love transcends mere words; it is a symphony of deeds that resonate through the lives he touches.

As we celebrate Bola Aganaba’s 60th birthday, we honour a man whose life is a testament to excellence, service, and unyielding faith. His journey continues to inspire and uplift all fortunate to know him.

 

Testimonials: Celebrating a Life of Love, Service, and Faith

Aganaba’s life is a testament to the power of love, service, and unwavering faith. As we celebrate his 60th birthday, we are reminded of his profound impact on countless lives.

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Anita, his wife, beautifully captured the essence of his character: “He is love in action… sold out to God.” She praised his selflessness, kindness, and humility, which made their marriage a joyous journey. Aganaba’s commitment to his faith is unwavering, and his love for God is evident in every aspect of his life. His sisters, Powei Horsfall and Ebi Obaro, echoed similar sentiments, describing him as gentle, caring, and kind-hearted. They praised his generosity and willingness to assist others, always ready to lend a helping hand. His youthful energy and handsome appearance belie his 60 years, a testament to his vibrant spirit.

As an engineer, Bola has built bridges of connection, leaving a lasting legacy in his field. As clergy, he has nurtured souls, guiding countless individuals on their spiritual journeys. As a father and husband, he has woven a tapestry of love and compassion, a true patriarch of his family. His embodiment of love, kindness, and generosity has inspired many, and his dedication to integrity, humility, and purpose has made him a true leader.

His brother, Justice Nayai Aganaba, praised him, saying, “Bola is an embodiment of love to those who have come close to him. Sometimes, I wonder how he does it. I pray that God will continue giving him the strength, resources, and longevity to remain relevant to his people, society, and humanity.”

In the same vein, Steve and Panebi Oboh admired his dedication to integrity, humility, purpose, contribution, and impact. Synthea Cameron-Odu, his sister-in-law, commended him for being a fantastic person who deserves God’s blessing, describing him as kind, caring, and warm-hearted.

Furthermore, Stephanie Daukoru, another sister-in-law, appreciates his welcoming nature, saying, “You have been an amazing brother-in-law, welcoming everyone with kindness and warmth. May we continue to enjoy your grace for many more years.” Calvin Odu, his nephew, fondly calls him “Uncle B” and lauded his calm and supportive nature, saying, “Uncle B is very calm, accommodating, very supportive. He loves God a lot and always makes Sunday service fun.” Weri Jaja, family, and friends wish him a life of hope and love.”

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Also testifying to his impact, Tokoni Aganaba, his niece, lauded him for inspiring and encouraging many to achieve greater heights, saying, “Dear Uncle B, thank you for inspiring and encouraging so many people around you to achieve greater heights. Your gentleness and empathy have changed several lives for good.” Jubilee Ephraim, a friend, described him as a peacemaker, saying, “Bola is the definition of ‘peacemaker.’ Through the grace of God upon his life, Bola lifts the downtrodden.” Ebiti Udo, his sister-in-law, appreciates his kindness and empathy, saying, “Uncle B, you have been a great in-law, big brother, and confidant.” Another sister-in-law, CY Uba, thanked him for his support and kindness, saying, “Your life story would never be complete without mentioning how God used you to sustain me for years.” Florence Edward, his niece, thanks him for being a pillar of support and strength.

From the clergy community, Pastor Dennis and Pastor Mrs. Grace Epelle wish him God’s blessings beyond measure. Pastor Edmund and Pastor Joy Oseahon from Port Harcourt wish him the best of years, while Pastor Tony Amos, a friend, described him as a “good man and Christian”.  Elder Japan and Deaconess Christy Omu prayed for God’s infinite mercy and blessings, saying, “We continue to pray that God in His infinite mercy that has seen you through service to your country will cause your latter years to be greater and sweeter than the former.”

In the same vein, the family of Renmi and Sunbo Sola-Philips, co-pastors and friends, congratulate him on his milestones, saying, “Heaven’s best is all we pray for you in Jesus’ name.” Nnamdi and Tukeni, his sister and brother-in-law, fondly describe him as a shining example of kindness, a perfect gentleman, and a devoted family man. They express their immense pride in him, wishing him a joyous birthday surrounded by loved ones.

Members of the RCCG Holy Ghost Arena, where Aganaba shepherds also testified to how great, dedicated, reliable, and compassionate their pastor is. Mr Debo Ikuesan, a church member, shares a heartwarming testimony of his kindness. After a terrible car accident in 2015, Aganaba selflessly offered help and support, standing by him throughout the ordeal. Debo prays that the Clergy’s large heart will continue to be a source of blessings, opening doors of favour for him. Deacon Victor Mayomi, a church elder, offered a heartfelt prayer for the celebrant, asking God to continue blessing him, lifting him, and enabling him to bless generations. He prayed for a long life, prosperity, good health, and a sound mind for him and his family. Etumudon Mike Osaro and Mrs Christy Adeniyi, ministers in his Parish, wished their pastor and his family abundant blessings and an increase.

A Prayer for the Journey Ahead

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As we celebrate Bola Aganaba’s 60th birthday, we join the chorus of gratitude, praising God for his life and legacy. May God grant him strength, wisdom, and boundless compassion, empowering him to continue inspiring future generations.

 

His legacy will ripple through generations, a testament to a well-lived life. With honesty and integrity, he has worn no masks, shining like a beacon in a world of uncertainty. His heart, an open book, is filled with kindness, generosity, and unwavering love.

 

As a footballer, he danced on the field, leaving footprints of grace. But beyond the game, he played life with the same elegance, building bridges of connection, nurturing souls, and weaving a tapestry of love and compassion.

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May his journey continue to inspire us all. Indeed, Bola Olotu Aganaba, born May 18, 1964, is a man whose legacy transcends concrete and asphalt. He stands tall as an embodiment of excellence, service, and unwavering faith, inspiring us to leave our footprints on the sands of time.

 

We celebrate his life at 60, unravelling the threads that compose this remarkable man—a blend of engineer, clergyman, father, and husband. May his journey continue to inspire us all, and may he be blessed with many more years of good health, happiness, and fulfilment. Cheers to a remarkable life!

 

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SPECIAL REPORT

Renewable Energy Options For Nigerians Following Tariff Hike

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By Victor I. Fagorite, PhD and Ifeoma Malo*

The electricity deficit in Nigeria devastatingly affects the country’s economy and the well-being of its people. According to the World Bank, Nigeria has the most significant electricity access deficit globally, with 45% of the population, or about 90 million people, cut off from the national electricity grid. World Bank data further shows that there are also significant gaps in electricity access between urban centres (84 per cent) and rural areas (26 per cent).

The recent Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission tariff increments affecting households and businesses aggravated the energy access deficit. NERC introduced electricity bands on April 3 and raised the tariff for those in Band A from N68/KWh to N225/kWh until May 6, when it was reduced by 8.1 per cent. Meanwhile, Band A customers should optimally receive 20-24 hours of electricity daily. Subscribers under Band B should enjoy 16 to 20 hours of power supply, while those in Band C should receive 12 to 16 hours daily.

These tariff hikes have convinced many Nigerians that now is the time to shift to alternative energy. Renewable energy from solar and hydropower is a beacon of hope, offering a concrete solution to the high energy cost and environmental pollution caused by fossil fuels.

Solar Energy: A Bright Solution

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Harnessing the abundant sunlight to potentially revolutionise energy accessibility, with an average of 6.25 hours of sunshine daily across the country, solar panels can help homes and businesses break free from the constraints of the national grid by adopting Solar Home Systems (SHS), reducing electricity expenses, and insulating against price fluctuations.

An estimated 6.2 million people (6% of the non-electrified population) in Nigeria are best served by SHS solutions due to their distance from grid infrastructure and low housing density, according to the SEforALL and AfDB market assessment published in 2018. SHS can be considered across two categories based on the different customer groups addressed. These are trim/entry-level, which provides basic power requirements to households (e.g., lighting) and Large SHS – Providing more significant power outputs for domestic use (e.g., TVs, fans, and kitchen appliances for an increasing middle-class market).

Looking at the whole SHS landscape, the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has spearheaded various funded projects in line with this. Some key players in Nigeria’s solar market involved in the SHS business include Lumos Nigeria, Arnergy Solar Limited, Greenlight Planet, Solar Energy Nigeria, Rubitec Solar, Blue Camel Energy, Solynta Energy, Havenhill Energy, Auxano Solar, and Solar Force Nigeria Limited.

Hydroelectricity: Tapping into Rivers and Streams

Hydropower has substantially contributed to Nigeria’s grid for several decades, accounting for 20% of the total grid supply today. While large-scale hydropower is well established, there is significant untapped potential in small hydropower across Nigeria. Many river systems, providing 70 micro dams, 126 mini dams and 86 small sites, supply a technically exploitable capacity of 3.5GW, but only 1.7% (0.06GW) of these resources are currently being tapped. For instance, a small hydro-power system with an operating capacity of 400kW, owned by Taraba State and managed by the Mambilla Beverages Company, factory, and local communities around the Mambilla Plateau. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) supported the project to supply clean electricity and renewable energy to the vicinal communities, including Kakara, Kusuku, Galadima, Nguroje, and Furmi.

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Such efforts could be replicated with flowing water and the required machinery in other areas. They will be well-suited for providing neighbourhoods not served by earlier grid infrastructure with the desired energy solutions. The main categories of hydropower plants include Small Hydro, Mini Hydro, Micro Hydro, and Pico Hydro.

Incorporation of solar energy and hydroelectricity to real estate development

Clean Technology Hub surveyed to review the perception of real estate developers and residents on the feasibility of incorporating renewables (solar and hydro) into residential infrastructures. All survey respondents acknowledged the importance of integrating renewable energy into real estate projects, although most currently do not utilise any renewable energy sources in their homes. The popularity of solar energy is highlighted by the unanimous agreement among respondents that solar energy is the most cost-effective option for real estate development. One compelling reason for this is the decreasing cost of solar technology and its long-term cost savings compared to traditional renewable energy sources such as hydropower.

Regarding incorporation into real estate development, 71.4% of estate developers consider solar energy the most suitable for real estate development. In comparison, 28.6% expressed a mixed consideration, suggesting a preference for a combination of renewable energy sources.

The survey further provides insights into various aspects of implementing renewable energy schemes, focusing on timelines, costs, comparisons with current options, and suggestions for improvement. Respondents’ estimates for setting up renewable energy schemes varied from less than a month to up to two years, a variation which may be due to differences in knowledge of the technology and perceptions of administrative processes or technical complicatedness. Implementation cost estimates ranged from 200,000 NGN to 10 million NGN, likely affected by the project’s scale, technology, and infrastructure requirements.

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For household scenarios:

Powering a 3-bedroom home with multiple appliances (two air conditioners, a freezer, two television sets, two decoder sets, a standing fridge, and eight lighting points) will cost between N8 to N10 million, ensuring stable five hours at noon and five hours at night with the battery powering the system when the sunlight is no longer available.

A 2-bedroom setup could range from N6 to N8 million with appliances (an air conditioner, a fridge, a TV, and decoder set, a microwave, and six lighting points) ensuring stable five hours at noon and five hours at night with the battery powering the system when the sunlight is no longer available.

A one-bedroom option costs around N5 to N6 million and includes appliances (one television set, one decoder set, and two standing fans). It guarantees 10 hours of power, just like the two- and three-bedroom homes.

It is worth noting that many Nigerians may not be able to afford N5 to N10 million to install solar power systems. There are cheaper options. A solar power system with a one-year warranty costs N2 to N3 million and can power the same load for 10 hours. Also, a solar power system that costs N200,000 to N1 million with a warranty for less than a year can power the same load for five hours or less. Likewise, there are subscription options.

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Call to Action

Solar energy has become the most valued resource as it has proven cost-effective and continuously supplies power. People can minimise conventional grid electricity, which is costly due to high tariffs. Similarly, the survey shows solid agreement that renewable energy needs to be part of real estate development, emphasising its effectiveness in dealing with electricity challenges in Nigeria.

The transition to renewable energy in the country will surely be possible when the government and businesses work together. To spur renewable energy development, policymakers and stakeholders must address the upfront costs of solar installations and promote the benefits of renewable energy to the public. The government can also address the issue using incentives such as tax breaks and subsidies for renewable energy to make them available to the public.

Despite the unresolved challenges, the survey results reveal a keen desire for green technologies in Nigeria. Adopting renewable energy will enable Nigeria to start from the basics, i.e., addressing electricity tariffs and inconsistent power supply, to a more sustainable and resilient energy future.

* Malo is the founder and CEO, and Fagorite, PhD, Lead Researcher at Clean Technology Hub, Abuja 

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SPECIAL REPORT

NDDC’s 56,786 Solar Lights Spark Transformation, Renew Hope In Niger Delta

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Solar street lights

By Pius O. Ughakpoteni

Across the Niger Delta, where dark mangroves intertwine with winding waterways, a wondrous transformation is taking place. Spearheaded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), under the visionary stewardship of Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, Managing Director, a staggering 56,786 solar streetlights ascend like quiet guardians. Their soft glow heralds a new era across the region, signalling the NDDC’s ambitious “Lighting Up the Niger Delta” project.

This change is rippling across the region, fuelled by the immediate and tangible benefits of solar lighting. “The solar streetlights have brought a sense of security we didn’t have before,” remarks Mr. Okejoto Gochua, a community elder and retired public servant in Delta State.”Before the solar lights, my shop would close when night comes,” explains, Mr. Chike Okechukwu a Yenagoa, Bayelsa State market vendor. “Now, I can serve customers long into the evening. It is like a second workday for me!”   These voices illustrate the far-reaching impact of the project, enhancing safety, extending business hours, and improving the quality of life in the Niger Delta.

Beyond their immediate benefits, solar streetlights position the Niger Delta as a leader in environmental sustainability. “NDDC has invested a lot in its Lighting Up the Niger Delta project. Our target is to ensure that every community in the Niger Delta is lit by solar streetlights, and we are working seriously towards that,” states Dr. Ogbuku.  This change highlights the region’s commitment to a clean energy future by reducing reliance on polluting diesel generators, aligning perfectly with global trends and potentially attracting international support for further development efforts.

However, not everyone shares the same enthusiasm.  Regional leaders are split over the project’s effectiveness. Critics, exemplified by the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor, acknowledge the advantages but advocate for projects with greater economic longevity. They canvass alternatives like modular refineries, arguing they offer a more sustainable solution. These reservations stem from concerns regarding the durability and potential mismanagement of solar lights. Nonetheless, amidst the discord, even critics concede the positive facets of the “Lighting Up the Niger Delta” campaign. Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor encapsulates this sentiment, stating, “It is not that the solar streetlight project is not good, but it cannot generate the needed impact on the people like the modular refineries.”

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Concerns about sustainability and cost-effectiveness remain valid. However, advancements in solar technology offer increasingly viable and long-lasting solutions. Partnering with reputable solar providers and prioritizing proper maintenance can significantly improve the lifespan of these systems. Additionally, while initial costs exist, the long-term savings due to reduced fuel and maintenance compared to diesel generators make solar streetlights a compelling option.

Ismael Harvey, a writer and advocate for sustainable urban development, emphasizes that solar streetlights play a crucial role in creating greener, more resilient cities. He highlights their ability to reduce carbon footprints, improve safety, promote energy independence, and empower communities. Harvey believes solar streetlights are an essential component of sustainable city planning for a brighter, more sustainable future.

The success of the solar streetlight initiative echoes similar transformations happening across the globe.  From Kenya’s off-grid solar revolution to India’s vast solar streetlight projects, diverse examples illuminate the widespread benefits of solar power for developing regions.  Importantly, they show that solar solutions transcend borders and offer practical solutions for a more sustainable future. The Niger Delta’s journey, fuelled by the NDDC’s ambitious “Lighting Up the Niger Delta” project, mirror this reality.

This monumental endeavour echoes the unwavering commitment to realizing President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda in the Niger Delta. It reshapes the Niger Delta’s energy narrative, steering a course towards a future prosperous with sustainability. In harmony with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, this initiative basks in the sun’s pure energy, fosters vibrant, sustainable communities, and rises boldly to meet the challenge of climate change. With every beam of light, the Niger Delta kindles a legacy of illumination that renews hope for her people.

The changes in the Niger Delta since the installation of these solar lights are a testament to the transformative impact of strong leadership. The vision of the Mr. Chiedu Ebie-led NDDC Board for a more sustainable and prosperous Niger Delta, coupled with the diligent implementation by Dr. Ogbuku, has made this extraordinary achievement possible. The Niger Delta, once reliant on grid electricity and fossil fuels for street lighting, now demonstrates technological prowess and an unwavering commitment to sustainability. The solar lights dotting the landscape are more than mere infrastructure; they are emblems of restoration and renewal and embody President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda. They illuminate a story of progress that resonates around the world.

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The glow that now blankets the region infuses it with hope and possibility. Streets formerly shrouded in darkness now thrum with life and commerce long after nightfall. Markets that once fell silent with the setting sun now echo with the cheerful voices of vendors and buyers. Footpaths that once inspired caution due to poor visibility are now well-lit, allowing people to move freely with increased safety and peace of mind. The darkness that once harboured uncertainty now offers a sense of security. Commerce flourishes as reliable, eco-friendly lighting extends the boundaries of the workday, sparking economic activity and creating new opportunities.

A powerful illustration of this impact comes from Ms. Donu Kogbara, CEO of African Access Limited. She notes that the NDDC’s provision of Solar Powered Street Lights to the Bane community, in Khana LGA, Rivers State, marks the first instance of nighttime economic activity in the community’s history. “This is historic! The people are already feeling the positive impact of the intervention of the NDDC and having a new lease of life. Thank you from Ogoniland!”

As the world grapples with the interconnected challenges of energy security, climate change, and sustainable development, the Niger Delta, spearheaded by the NDDC, shines bright. It presents another tangible example of progress, innovation, and the indomitable spirit of communities striving for a better future. In each solar light’s glow, the present and a more prosperous future take shape under the visionary leadership of Mr. Ebie and the meticulous stewardship of Dr. Ogbuku.

The Niger Delta illuminates the path fuelled by the boundless energy of the sun and driven by an unwavering determination to transform communities from within. Each flicker of light that pierces the darkness at dusk is a statement: the promise of a sustainable world, in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, is not just a hopeful dream but a reality rapidly coming to fruition. It is a promise the NDDC’s “Lighting Up the Niger Delta Project” is actively helping to fulfil, one solar-powered light at a time.

The solar streetlight project is a significant step in improving the lives of Niger Delta residents. However, the NDDC recognizes the need for a comprehensive development approach. The NDDC’s ongoing efforts in economic empowerment, such as skills training programs and support for agriculture, along with youth development initiatives like Project H.O.P.E, and its commitment to expanding electricity access through projects like the 132/33kv electricity substation at Ode-Erinje in Okitupupa, demonstrate their dedication to driving long-term, sustainable growth throughout the region.

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  • Pius O. Ughakpoteni is Director, Corporate Affairs at the Niger Delta Development Commission
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