The nation’s renewable energy industry has been described as a game changer because of its capability to bridge the energy gap for people on both the grid and offgrid.
Speaking in an exclusive chat, the General Manager, West Africa , Azuri Technologies Limited, Vera Nwanze said although in its early days the solar energy sector was not well adopted, the narrative is beginning to change due to its wide range of quality products.
According to her, this is because cheap and substandard products were patronized which made people to lose trust in it.
In her words, “the solar sector in Nigeria is still not well adopted because people are still skeptical on whether it is working or not.
Permit me to also say that in the earlier days when the solar system came in, the Chinese people were patronized for cheap products because they will reduce the quality and this led to a lot of people losing trust in the solar product.
“The narrative is changing fast with dependable source like ours,” she said.
Speaking further, Nwanze said the sector would thrive only if the local banks are willing to fund projects adding that the banks are not financing them because they are yet to understand the sector.
She said, “Coming back to financing, even the ones that are supposedly supporting solar products, they talk it but do not act it.
“In East Africa, where the solar system is well established, you see a lot of the banks partaking. In Nigeria, we have adopted a watch and see attitude. We only go with the fine bride.
“We have approached a lot of Nigerian banks, but they are not wiling because they still don’t understand the sector very well to be able to partake. So, their appetite for risk is zero.
“This is why you see us discussing some special purpose vehicles financing structure whereby we use the receivable as collateral.
“We sign a contract with customer over a period of years where they pay on monthly basis because we know that these are the people at the bottom of the pyramid and the financial capacity is not there.
“So, we have to ensure that these people enjoy the services and also being able to pay at a convenient and affordable rate,” she added.
She therefore called on government to grant tax waivers to operators in order to ensure more affordability by customers.
She said, “If we have some income tax waivers for the panel products, that will also go a long way in making these products more affordable because the end users will bear the cost.
“What obtains today is that they separate the panel and say others are electronic but how would they run without the panel?
“So, they should be seen a single entity when it comes to VAT,” she noted.