BLOOMBERG - Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil exporter, may be about to turn sunward to generate more of its power.

Senators in the capital of Abuja are debating allocation of $30 million to solar projects in this year’s budget, according to the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria. They’re expected to provide funding for off-grid solar projects, photovoltaic manufacturing, and transmission upgrades, according to REAN Executive Secretary Godwin Aigbokhan. A decision is expected this month.

"It just gives you an idea of how the government sees solar as part of the total energy mix," Aigbokhan said in a telephone interview from Lagos. The country could receive about $2.5 billion of investments in utility-scale solar projects by 2018, he said.

Just months after Nigeria announced plans to issue green bonds for renewable-energy projects, West Africa’s biggest economy is debating how it could deliver clean power to more of its 180 million citizens. It’s part of a growing list of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, that are increasing the use of green power.

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Nigerian officials say they want to generate as much as 1,200 megawatts of off-grid solar. The country’s households and small businesses currently spend about $21.8 billion each year powering diesel generators to generate electricity, according to a study by German development agency GIZ.  

"The ubiquity of small diesel generators used to bridge gaps in grid-supplied power already makes solar panels that cut fuel costs an economic option," said Itamar Orlandi, head of frontier power research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. 

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