The Niger Solar Electricity Access Project (NESAP), aimed at enhancing electricity access in rural and peri-urban areas of Niger through solar energy, started in 2017 and has built 15 solar power plants.
This project, funded by the World Bank through the International Development Association (IDA), will enable Niger to better balance its energy mix, which is currently largely dominated by thermal energy.
Out of the 15 solar power plants, 12 are operational as of July 2023. Implemented by NIGELEC, the plants have demonstrated excellent results in enhancing access to high-quality electrical services for underserved households and businesses in the project's specified areas. The electrification rate in these isolated centers is projected to increase from 20% to 75% once all the solar power plants are fully operational and the new connections completed.
One defining characteristic of Abdoul-Kader is his unwavering desire to serve. He wholeheartedly devotes himself to his family, friends, and community. “I spent some time outside my village, in the city of Agadez, where I went to study. After graduating I remained there to work. But one thought consumed my mind - to return and contribute to the well-being of my community,” he expresses with deep conviction.
Abdoul-Kader Adamou Labo, 34, works in the energy sector with his younger brother, Abdoul-Warissou and has established his own business.
At the beginning, we barely managed to complete ten or 15 installations at most. Electricity lasted no more than 12 hours a day, and there weren't many NIGELEC subscribers. A single meter supplied an entire neighborhood of Ingall.
Abdoul-Kader Adamou Labo
Ingall a meeting point for animal breeders
Ingall, the rural commune from which he originates, is in the Agadez region, over 850 kilometers away from the capital Niamey, and serves as a crossroads for several communities, notably Tuareg, Peuls, and also the Hausa community. Every year, during the rainy season, vast herds migrate towards the salted pastures and springs to the north of Ingall, crossing the clays of Ighazer.
Livestock farming is the main economic activity and primary source of income for the inhabitants of Ingall. However, for the past few years, rainfall has become increasingly erratic, and the drought period has extended, significantly affecting the livestock. This year was no exception and several Agadez region communes, including Ingall, were severely affected by extreme heat, resulting in the death of numerous animals. The situation has significantly impacted the well-being of the population, including the youth, who represent the majority and also practice livestock farming.
The lack of opportunities has also led to a mass exodus of young people to other major towns in the country, or even neighboring countries. “More and more young people are migrating to the cities of Agadez and Tahoua in search of opportunities. To counter this trend, I thought of training some of them in renewable energies so as to provide them with alternative sources of income,” said Abdoul-Kader.
Abdoul-Kader specializes in electrical installation for buildings. He also provides electrical equipment services. More recently, he has branched out into renewable energies, with a particular focus on training and coaching young people.
His business had a rocky start. “At the beginning, we barely managed to complete ten or 15 installations at most,” he says. "Electricity lasted no more than 12 hours a day, and there weren't many NIGELEC subscribers. A single meter supplied an entire neighborhood of Ingall,” he explains.
If Abdoul-Kader's business is flourishing today, it's thanks to the new Ingall solar power plant. With a 750 kilowatts capacity, the plant now provides a 24-hour electricity service to the entire commune, when power only used to be available from 10 am to midnight. “Previously we all slept in the dark. Now, thanks to the power plant reinforcement, we can sleep in the light,” says Rhissa Ag Mohamed, the first deputy mayor of Ingall.
Better access to healthcare services thanks to solar energy
With the COVID-19 pandemic, as the health system began to shake, the project was subsequently restructured with an emergency response component added to undertake immediate measures to manage the risks associated with COVID-19 impacts. This supported the government's efforts to respond to the pandemic.
Funds were allocated to finance solar systems and ensure adequate health services in some of the health facilities. As a result, 73 health centers which had no electricity, have been electrified using autonomous solar photovoltaic systems with storage, guaranteeing a 24-hour power supply.
The Kankandi Health Center located approximately 40 kilometers from the main town in the Dosso region of the same name, serves around fifteen villages. Prior to the installation of solar panels, it had no functional electricity supply. Attendance at the center was low, with barely a dozen deliveries - the primary reason for consultations - compared to around thirty now. The health center is also equipped with refrigerator to preserve vaccines.
“Before, the health center relied solely on daylight with consultations only taking place during the day. From 7 pm onwards, patients, especially women, would quickly return home to avoid the darkness. Now, the center operates 24/7 and patients come all the time. It gives us hope for our children, they can access basic services at all times," says Harouna Adamou, president of the Kankandi management committee, with a big smile.