Nigeria presents several advantages to investors. However, one area the nation is facing challenges is in energy. To save the situation, entrepreneurs are directing their attention towards renewable energy. One of them, the founder, Clintonel Innovation Centre (CIC), Abia State, Tochukwu Chukwueke, is working on energy access and economic empowerment in the Southeast, DANIEL ESSIET writes.
Energy crisis in Nigeria seems to be getting worse daily. With a population of 200 million, Nigeria produces barely 4500 megawatt (mw) of energy.
In rural communities, fewer homes have access to electricity. To tackle this, attention is being directed towards renewable energy. One of Nigeria’s renewable energy strengths is solar, given the long hours of sunshine.
Consequently, some private sector organisations are working on renewable energy options. They have made progress in developing solar projects.
One of them is Clintonel Innovation Centre (CIC), Aba, Abia State, established by Tochukwu Clinton Chukwueke. Its vision is to increase Nigeria’s share of renewable energy and drive growth in most areas of the country.
Chukwueke sees the solar energy sector as a source of well-paid employment with strong opportunities for career advancement.
This is because it creates a high number of jobs due to the large workforce required for installation, sales, and operations and maintenance, so there is a wide range of opportunities available.
Under its Skill Up Abia (SUPA), CIC is training young Nigerians to become experts in renewable energy. SUPA is supported by Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND). PIND is a non-profit organisation with funding from Ford Foundation to help curb rising unemployment in the Niger Delta region.
Chukwueke said renewable energy technologies not only present a more future-oriented technology choice but are in addition a promising way for expanding access to electricity to a larger part of the population.
He added that the use of solar energy contributes to clean energy transitions and sustainable development, one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Due to unreliable electrical grid, Chukwueke noted that solar energy provides a reliable source of power.
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According to him, the market for solar home systems installer are remote rural areas, which are not easily accessed by the national grid.
For this reason, he said his organisation begin a three-month training on solar power entrepreneurship. The goal, according to him, is to improve income generating opportunities for the young Nigerians from the Niger Delta region by giving them the knowledge and tools to install, operate and maintain small to medium solar photovoltaic (PV) technology solutions and projects.
So far, 40 youths have been trained as solar energy entrepreneurs. He said the beneficiaries were trained in technical, managerial, leadership and empowerment aspects of solar energy businesses.
As more Nigerians adopt more clean energy technologies, CIC boss believes it was vital young Nigerians acquired the necessary skills.
Apart from solar energy, young people are trained on computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). Also, trainees under the SUPA project are trained to acquire skills in Computer Aided Design (CAD) skills.
He said there was an increasing challenge of youth unemployment and underemployment.
Chukwueke is also driving Hardware Nigeria Community (HNC), a network and synergy of inventors, makers and hardware entrepreneurs committed to fixing hardware in Nigeria.
Hardware, according to him, includes physical technology products, such as electronic devices, mechanical devices, machines, gadgets among others. The goal, according to him, is to facilitate indigenous technology development, entrepreneurship and job creation.