The minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, yesterday performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of a 10MW solar power plant estimated to cost N4 billion naira at Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria.
The project, located at Biye Village, Sabongari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, is expected to be completed in six months and is meant to address the energy needs of the university.
It was designed, initiated and financed by ABU in collaboration with Nigeria-German Energy Partnership with assistance from Tertiary Education Trust Fund.
During the foundation laying ceremony, the minister commended the university for its foresight and urged it to sustain the tempo.
Mr. Adamu who was represented by Fatima Jidda-Ahmed, the Director, Tertiary Institutions in the Federal Ministry of Education expressed hope that the institution would take advantage of the partnership with Germany, not only in power generation, but in encouraging engineering students gain from the partnership.
In his speech, the German Deputy Ambassador to Nigeria, Regina Hess, said the partnership was based on the passion Germany had for university education in Nigeria.
She said universities would perform better if the education budget was used judiciously.
Mrs. Hess promised to train engineers from the ABU to become experts in the field of solar energy.
Jeremy Gains, the Coordinator, Nigeria-German Energy Partnership, recalled that the project started in 2008 in Berlin when the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and his wife visited Germany.
“Both Yar’Adua and his wife were alumni of the university. He met Chancellor Martha and she asked how Germany can help Nigeria.
“The late president said wisely in just three words and those three words were; power, power, power, adding that electricity is the key to development,” he said.
Mr. Gains said another alumni of ABU who also facilitated the project was the late Rilwanu Lukman, when he was both minister and Secretary-General of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC.
“German company will come to Nigeria to create power stations while in return, Nigeria will guarantee energy security in the form of gas,” he noted.
Earlier, the ABU Vice-Chancellor, Ibrahim Garba, said ABU, the largest university, not only in Nigeria but in West Africa, had high demand for electricity.
He said the university spent about N85 million monthly on electricity, “that’s why we need our own power source to use and probably sell out to consumers out there.”
Mr. Garba said, all things being equal, the project, which initial cost stood at N4 billion naira would be completed in the next six months.