By Dwelleth Morountodun
The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammed Haruna, has said that plans are top gear to bridge Nigeria’s electricity supply with the contribution of 50 Megawatts (MWs) of solar energy to the country’s electricity mix by 2023.
He made this known during the closing ceremony of a week-long NASENI Skill Acquisition Training and Youth Empowerment for 100 youths on solar installation and maintenance in Awka, Anambra State at the weekend.
Haruna, said that the agency already has achieved about 21 Megawatts per annum with installed capacity through its NASENI Solar Energy Limited (NSEL), a manufacturing plant located in Karshi, Abuja. He said the plant is now implementing its plan to double that capacity to move its production capacity to 50 Megawatts to bridge the gaps of over 80 per cent imported substandard solar products which has flooded Nigerian markets.
He harped on the need for training and retraining of technicians in the solar system electric power supply subsector, stressing that a competent workforce for Nigeria is a must for self-reliance and industrial development.
He explained that technicians must be trained and retrained for knowledge update as failure to acquire skill and training for solar electricity supply is the root cause of most failed solar installations across the country.
This is frustrating and discouraging to customers, some consumers are already contemplating that solar system is a myth instead of a reality, he added.
He was quick to add that NASENI solar panels and installations have not recorded failure anywhere across the country.
“Although we are aware that some solar installations are failing even before commissioning. No two solar system installations are exactly the same even if they are of same size and capacity. Load survey, computation and analysis are on a case-by-case basis.” Haruna, stressed.
Accordingly, he said: “You must acquire skill on how to carry out load survey, design, component specification and selection and then component matching in that order, before installation. Solar power system is modular, and there are specific methods and scientific approach to installation, repairs and maintenance.”
The NASENI boss reiterated that there could be no industrial development without a skilled workforce, stressing Nigeria cannot continue to import machines, men and other equipment and in fact value added raw materials for Nigeria industries and yet aspire for industrial economy.
He maintained that skilled Nigerians are the most important of all components of knowledge-based economy, adding that the mandate of skilled development given to NASENI by President Muhammadu Buhari is among the key or important legacy of the present administration.
Haruna, further urged the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to commence a five-year programme on rebooting tertiary education workshops and laboratories across the country with appropriate equipment that will make it possible for all students to acquire at least an occupational trade skill before graduation.
“Compulsory skill acquisition course is needed as integral part of tertiary education curriculum of National University Commission (NUC), the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), and the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) as a modification or substitute of entrepreneurship programme of tertiary education that is of limited impact,” he added.
In her own remarks, the Chairman Senate Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation, Senator Uche Ekwunife expressed optimism on the benefits of the training to youths in Anambra State.
“I strongly believe on the importance and gains of the training today which cannot be overemphasized.
“The mandate of NASENI is for capital goods in the areas of research on reverse engineering, industry, chemical, chemistry and engineering. “The essence of this training is actually to train our youths on solar installation and maintenance.
“If you look at the way the country is going today, we are trying to find alternatives to energy and solar is one of them.
“I believe that if the trainees paid attention to what they were taught it will give them an opportunity to be self-reliant and to train others,” she said.
The lawmaker, who was the chairperson of the occasion, thanked NASENI on behalf of the Senate Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation, stressing that empowering youths was important for a skilled workshop which Nigeria needs for rapid industrialisation.