Today, the first of its kind Renewable Energy Mini Utility (REMU) was presented to an international forum of delegates from ECOWAS countries in the small rural village of Pakau, about one hour drive outside Abuja, Nigeria.

The REMU is a new, sophisticated and state-of-the-art power utility for off-grid electricity generation and distribution based on renewable energy. The system is tailored to provide reliable and uninterrupted electricity supply for rural off-grid areas in Africa. It combines solar energy and batteries as back up. As soon as solar is not available, the charged batteries take over automatically. Until now, it was not feasible to supply electricity to Pakau from the main grid. Through this new technology, the villagers enjoy now a better quality of power supply than the big Nigerian cities. This technology has the potential to solve one of Nigeria’s most burning structural problems: the migration from rural areas to the cities. Reliable power supply is the necessary condition for solid economic development and creation of wealth.

The REMU is highly intelligent through its unique software system and specially designed Wi-Fi connected smart meters, which control the power supply of each house in the village. A mobile phone connection links the REMU to the Internet. This first system is a living laboratory, where also prepayment technology via usual text message is implemented. That enables features for the utility, which are unique worldwide.

Based on the payment system via text message in cooperation with a Nigerian bank, it will be possible to support for example poor family members in a far-off rural village by paying for them power from Abuja or Lagos – or from any point in the world with access to mobile phone or Internet. At a later stage, this feature will be presented via a dedicated website to donors from first world countries who like to support economic development in Africa. Thus it will be possible to donate electricity directly to either REMU connected schools, health stations, start-up companies or entire villages. This helps not only the villages, but also supports the viability of the REMU business model, which subsequently will be owned by the local village co-op.

The US-based company Golden Grid Solutions, Inc (GGSI). in close cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Power, works & Housing in Nigeria has developed REMU technology and the software. The Nigerian installer M-Rald, who is based in Kano and Abuja, installed the system. During the presentation of the system in Pakau, Faruk Yusuf Yabo, Ag. Director for Renewable Energy and Rural Power Access of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works & Housing said: “With this project we also wanted to demonstrate that the system can be build by a Nigerian company with equipment sourced here in Nigeria. The only items imported are the specially designed smart meters and the software, which represent only a small fraction of the total budget.”

Already in a very early stage, the software was designed to comply with the strict transparency and reporting rules for green investments like Green Bonds. Through its Internet connection, the Ministry of Power, Works & Housing in Abuja is able to see in real-time electricity sales in the village and can access the analytical tools built into the software and thus understand the economics of the system and keep an updated overview. This ability of the REMU is an important feature for investors who will support the roll out of REMU technology in Africa. The Ministry is also collaborating with GGSI to promote private sector led Green Bond to finance development of several REMUs around Nigeria by private developers.

Haruna Ibrahim

(press and public relations)