Nigerians have been advised to adopt the use of solar energy as an alternative power source for productive use by micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria as it is a very affordable and an environmentally-friendly means of power production. This advice was given recently by Olakunle Owoeye, the Convener of a productive use of solar energy awareness project held in Lagos. This event was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Olakunle disclosed that a 2013 SMEDAN survey report revealed that MSMEs, contribute 84 percent of the total labor force in Nigeria, but however lamented that poor power supply is one of the critical challenges facing the MSMEs. Speaking with reporters on the campaign project, Olakunle, a sustainable energy professional, shared that Nigeria receives an average solar radiation of about 5.5kWh/m2 on a daily basis. According to him, this is adequate to power MSMEs effectively with Solar PV generator at a far lower cost than the available means MSMEs presently use to generate power (NEPA & generator). This will eventually make MSMEs more productive, save on the cost of energy, and improve MSMEs business bottom line. He stated that, “The awareness campaign project was developed from the Alumni TIES ‘Energy Access for All’ seminar last April in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The solar energy awareness campaign is funded through a small grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and administered by World Learning through a cooperative agreement. This campaign will bridge the gap of energy access through the provision of affordable, safe, and clean energy in Africa. This campaign aims to create awareness and mobilize support for the promotion of productive use of solar energy in Nigeria, especially in the MSMEs. Take for instance a phone charging business, a boutique, a small salon, a small restaurant that needs just light and fan, a small shop that operates until night, or a mini business center, these businesses still use the ‘I better pass my neighbor’ and other bigger sized generator to power their businesses. An affordable solar generator can rescue these businesses from the snare of daily petrol cost and create their freedom from noise and air pollution. A small-scale business owner, Tajudeen Abiodun, who also participated in the campaign argued that the epileptic power supply in the country would be a forgone issue if solar energy could be prioritized. Abiodun stated, “Our sunny weather is an advantage that needs to be harnessed through the adoption of solar energy as an alternative power source. For instance, on a daily basis, I used to spend a minimum of N1000 of fuel in addition to the cost of maintaining the gasoline generator and this adversely affected my business. Since I changed to Solartel, my business has been redefined and my profit maximized. No noise pollution and it is pocket friendly”.

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