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How solar power lights up IDPs, orphanages in Abuja, others

The quest for survival is tough already as economic indices like inflation, unemployment and energy costs continue to rise but it is tougher for internally…

The quest for survival is tough already as economic indices like inflation, unemployment and energy costs continue to rise but it is tougher for internally displaced persons as well as orphans, who may not really have a veritable means of livelihood.

It is in this regard that any effort made to alleviate these tough conditions is seen as a good move for the society. The Azura Power West Africa Limited, operator of the 461 megawatts (MW) Azura Edo GenCo in Benin, Edo State, is one of the companies that has prioritised energy projects (solar power) in its annual $1.03 million dollars (about N460m) Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) budget.

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Speaking recently during this year’s annual giving event in Abuja, the Managing Director, Engr. Edu Okeke, said orphanages and IDPs have so much to worry about that the company’s operators believe they could cut the energy cost of such places.

Solar tops N460m Azura social projects

Engr. Okeke said for this year, the company executed seven CSR projects in Maiduguri, Benin, Abuja, Gashaka Park in Adamawa State and Lagos worth $1.03m (about N460m).

Top on the list of projects is the $300,000 (about N133.9m) it spent on the inauguration of solar power installations in orphanages in Abuja, Lagos, Edo and a learning centre in Maiduguri. According to the MD, the Maiduguri learning centre was built for IDPs and displaced orphans executed in partnership with the North East Children Trust. The facility has solar power equipment to provide electricity for the vocational centres.

Just near its site, in Edo State, Azura Power upgraded the Ihovbor Primary School, employed teachers and plans to send the children to secondary school upon graduation. It executed this with the Nathan American Academy and spent $320,000 (N142.9m).

Azura also spent $100,000 (N44.6m) on 1,000 eye care treatment and surgeries for the underprivileged in deserving host communities, using Tulsi Chanrai Foundation.

Working with the Africa Nature Investors Foundation, the company then committed to donating $100,000 (N44.6m) annually for three years to the Gashaka National Park to bring best practice ecotourism and nature conservation while providing rangers with equipment, supporting local communities and providing basic infrastructure to the park.

To encourage young ones, the company has the ‘football for street kids’ and through its partner – Yedi youth Empowerment and Development Initiative, Azura spent $10,000 (N4.5m) this year on sensitisation around issues such as HIV, malaria for underprivileged children using football as vehicle. Azura also renovated and constructed secondary school classroom blocks Abuja and Edo at $200,000 (N89.3m).

Speaking at the donation of 4 kilowatts (kw) solar power and inverter systems to Facado Orphanage in Abuja, Engr. Okeke said: “We devote a million dollars every year to Power to Change activities.”

On the Abuja orphanage, he said: “For a facility like this, we want you to focus on providing food and clothes for your kids and to not worry about energy cost. I will say take this as a token and we will continue to support as much as possible.”

Okeke said the renewable energy installation will help the orphanage save the cost of diesel which is over N700 per litre.

“It will save them the heavy cost of diesel used in generating power. Some of us are parents and when we look at what is happening here, it is not an easy job for the proprietors, because it’s difficult taking care of kids. But our prayer is that among them, very soon some of them will be Azura employees,” Okeke noted.

The proprietor of the orphanage, Amb. Ngozi George, lauded the initiative, stating that Azura did all registration checks before picking the place for its CSR this year adding that it would have impact on the 34 children in the facility.

“Now, the cry that they can’t see their books and the lack of electricity, which has also been a major cause of mosquitoes around here will also disappear. So, it will improve their health, education, even their entertainment,” she said.

Jesusboy Wealth, aged nine, at the orphanage lauded the initiative, noting that children now have better lighting in the facility to read and be creative as the grid-connected power is epileptic.

In Benin City, Azura’s team was at the Eghosa Orphanage Home where a 4kw solar power system was also installed to serve the 58 children there. The Chief Operating Officer, Nonyerem Anyanwu Obibuaku, at the event, said: “We have installed a 4kw solar panel for the home. So that they can have light when there is power outage and use their appliances. As you can see, there is no electricity and they have electricity.”

The orphanage’s Proprietor, Eghosa Ikhueabor, commended the company for the donations and the impact of the stable electricity they now have.

Godstime Eghosa, a child, said: “We are very happy because of the solar power. For two days, there has been a power outage but we are watching television while the fans, freezers and other appliances are still working.”