Speaking at the launch on Friday, Waheed Olagunju, BOI acting managing director, said the cost of electricity accounts for about 40 percent of operational expenses for most MSMEs, resulting in reduced profit margins.
He said the bank was out to change this via the solar energy fund, and foster sustainable development in the power sector.
“Many Nigerians and Nigerian businesses that can afford other alternative energy sources have resorted to the use of electric generators at exorbitant costs,” Olagunju said.
“It was estimated that in 2015, manufacturers spent as much as N3.5trillion to generate alternative power due to the challenges in the supply of public electricity.
“For Nigeria to therefore achieve sustainable and inclusive development, there is an urgent need to substantially increase the supply of modern and affordable energy services from sources that are affordable, accessible and environmentally friendly.
“A robust mix of energy sources combined with an improved end-use efficiency, would be required to meet the country’s energy needs, and this is where the utilization of renewable energy sources come into play.”
Olagunju said renewable energy provide healthy and sustainable alternative to the continuous use of fossil fuels, with long term cost saving advantages.
“It is therefore important to support the provision of sustainable and reliable energy for MSMEs, which is why the Bank of Industry has decided to provide the Solar Energy Fund to MSMEs.
“The Bank is already playing an active role in Lighting up and powering Nigeria through the provision of solar energy solutions for rural communities, having successfully deployed solar solutions worth N240 million to six off-grid communities, one each in Niger, Osun, Gombe, Anambra, Edo and Kaduna States, under its pilot scheme.
“These communities with an average of 200 homes each previously had no access to electricity, but since the provision of clean, reliable and sustainable solar electricity, the lives of the indigenes of these communities have changed significantly.
“The provision of solar electricity has reduced energy costs, created more micro businesses, improved healthcare and quality of education, and generally provided a new lease of life for indigenes of these otherwise unserved communities.”
“This initiative is being replicated in other rural communities in collaboration with our development partners, UNDP and relevant State Governments, and it is now being scaled up to provide energy for MSMEs across the country, commencing with the N1 billion solar energy fund that we are here to launch.”