Virtual Remarks At The Corporate Launch Of d.light Nigeria
KEYNOTE SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE CORPORATE PROGRAM FOR THE LAUNCH BY D.LIGHT NIGERIA ON THE 13TH OF SEPTEMBER, 2022.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to join you today for this landmark event, the launch of the iMAX 10 Solar Power System by d.light Nigeria. To the d.light team, thank you for the kind invitation to share in the joy and promise of this event.
Let me also apologize for not being personally present at this event. I was already scheduled to be in Lagos this morning when on Friday I got notice that I was to represent our President at an event in Nairobi, Kenya today.
There are few issues more topical and relevant to the well-being of our world today than the climate change crisis. While the world has experienced several global crises throughout history, from plagues to wars, to economic meltdowns, our generation is confronted with perhaps its worst crisis yet – climate change. But for developing countries, it is a twin problem; the climate crisis and a poverty crisis, an important cause and consequence of the poverty crisis is energy poverty or lack of access to energy for millions.
What do all these mean in countries such as ours with large numbers of poor and vulnerable people, a great part of whose poverty is a result of a lack of access to energy?
Today, that demography uses kerosene and firewood/charcoal for domestic purposes – cooking and lighting. Aside from deforestation caused by the use of firewood, indoor pollution results in hundreds of thousands of deaths annually from the use of kerosene for cooking.
Fire hazards from kerosene lanterns and cookstoves are also rampant. Indeed, we are told that Sam Goldman, the co-founder of d.light, resolved with his partner Ned Tozun, to eradicate domestic kerosine use and produce and distribute solar lanterns when while living in a West African village, his neighbour’s son was badly burned in a kerosine accident.
It is evident then that all our ingenuity, creativity and compassion will be needed to resolve these existential crises of our times. As we cannot plan for zero emissions by whatever target date, without a realistic plan for energy access for billions of the poor and vulnerable, so it is that we cannot plan effectively for energy access without linking it with an effective emissions reduction plan.
If energy access issues are left unaddressed, we will continue to see growing energy demand being addressed with high polluting and deforesting fuels.
In addressing this issue, the Federal government developed a robust renewable energy programme, the Nigeria Electrification Project, a World Bank and Africa Development Bank funded program implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA). This has been the Federal Government’s flagship vehicle for promoting energy access using off-grid decentralised renewable energy solutions.
The Nigeria Electrification Project aims to deploy off-grid renewable energy systems including Solar Home Systems in sparsely populated rural locations, and solar hybrid mini-grids in densely populated unserved or under-served locations with economic activities and solar hybrid captive power plants for federal universities and affiliated teaching hospitals.
Since its inception in 2018, the project has impacted the lives of over 3.7 million Nigerians through the 65 mini-grids and 770,000 Solar Home Systems, representing an aggregate of about 30MW of off-grid renewable energy systems thus far been deployed.
The Solar Home Systems component of the Nigeria Electrification Project is the best performing by all indicators. Solar Home Systems are quick and easy to deploy and are effective for electrifying individual users, especially those that are resident in sparsely populated locations far from the reach of the national grid.
These small and modular systems help in no small way in resolving the twin problems of energy poverty and emissions, as they provide energy access using clean renewable technologies.
It is the aggregation of little interventions like this that will create effective solutions to the complex dilemmas we face. This explains why d.light systems and their programs represent important components in the fight against climate change and the race to achieve energy access for millions safely and with zero carbon emissions.
It is interesting to know that of the 770,000 Solar Home Systems deployed under the Nigeria Electrification Project, d.light systems represent over 74,000 of them, and have impacted over 350,000 Nigerians in unserved and under-served rural locations.
Lack of access to energy is a Base- of-the-Pyramid (BOP) problem and requires social enterprises like d.light, who are committed to not just turning a profit but making a tangible impact on the quality of life of their vulnerable customers. From Nigeria to Kenya, to Myanmar and India, d.light is making an outstanding impact, having contributed to improving the lives and livelihoods of well over 100 million people. The d.light team should be very proud indeed.
From what I gather, d.light’s extensive impact stems from the fact that it not only provides technology solutions in the delivery of its products and services but also addresses the affordability issues its bottom-of-the-pyramid customers in the developing world face.
This is especially very critical at this time because transitioning to clean and renewable sources of energy comes at a cost that may be too much to bear for poor rural dwellers. I actually looked up the range of D. Light products available on sale, and there is an impressive range including solar portable inverter generators, solar-powered electric cookers, solar-powered standing fans and mobile charging solar lanterns and the prices are clearly very affordable.
I commend d.light once again for its passion and commitment to closing the energy gap in Nigeria one customer at a time, and I encourage the team to keep developing the technology, products and business models that contribute to achieving this national and global goal. The world is greatly enriched and humankind is ennobled by your brand of altruistic entrepreneurship.
I believe that a fair, inclusive and equitable energy transition is possible and within reach, but we must all play our part respectively as governments, development practitioners, social entrepreneurs, impact businesses, financiers and even as environmentally conscious and responsive consumers to actualise it.
Thank you very much, God bless you.