Ketil Karlsen, Head of European Union delegation in Nigeria once said, “For the availability of jobs, it is absolutely vital that businesses can thrive and for businesses to thrive it is important that they have access to affordable energy in order to compete.” And according to Damilola Ogunbiyi, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All, “We cannot achieve the promise of the Paris Agreement or Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 – access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all – without a clean energy transition that leaves no one behind,” adding that “Today, just under 800 million people globally lack access to electricity, and we must close these gaps with renewable, efficient and affordable solutions.”

With support from the United States African Development Foundation and the technical project management and business advisory assistance from Diamond Development Initiatives, many renewable energy companies are cutting their own path to a slow but steady awakening in the business of bridging the gap by powering households and businesses. One of them is ICE Commercial.

For the 2019 USADF-supported Off-Grid Energy Challenge, ICE Commercial deployed over 70-kWp of distributed solar across 14 commercial plaza sites in Edo and Delta States. This intervention led to the connection of 107 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to clean, reliable pay-as-you-go solar energy for productive use. Specifically, the project is currently benefiting 48 women-led SMEs to decrease their running costs and carbon footprint, while improving their business productivity. Additionally, the project saw the employment and vocational training of 6 youth graduates in preparation for a career in the Nigerian off-grid/solar industry.

There is also Eastwind Laboratories, via its Solar Refrigeration Project. In 2017, Eastwind identified a needed service: “Refrigeration As A Service”– based on provisioning cold storage space rentals for agricultural products and perishable goods for either refrigeration or freezing for a specified period – for community residents of Ile-Ife, Osun State. Additionally, Eastwind identified the provision of ice block services for MSMEs (like restaurants, bars, cold drinks sellers, etc.) as a service that would add value to the community. And as part of its commitment to providing access to affordable, off-grid energy to the unserved and underserved, USADF awarded a grant of USD 50,000 to Eastwind to provide cost-effective, solar-powered refrigeration services for over 700 customers through large and small-scale solar-powered cubicle refrigeration.

Eastwind Laboratories Ltd has deployed a 20kw solar-powered cold storage facility in Lagere, Ile-Ife. Also, in adapting to COVID-19 lockdown realities, Eastwind delved into doorstep deliveries and diversified into making and community sales of Zobo, a local drink.

— To be continued