By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
In view of the ongoing Solar energy project embarked by the authorities of the University of Calabar( UNICAL), Vice Chancellor, Prof Zana Akpagu, has assured the entire University Community of constant power Supply.
Akpagu gave the assurance during the ground breaking ceremony of the University of Calabar Solar Energy Project.
He said the importance of power in the institution cannot be overemphasized.
The Vice Chancellor disclosed that the project is carried out in partnership with the Republic of Germany.
According to him “this is the most historic event in the life of my administration”.
Akpagu, who identified power as a major impediment to the growth of the institution that gulps approximately N600m annually, stressed that the solar energy project when completed will free the university from this financial bondage.
He assured that his administration will ensure that the project comes to fruition, adding that power forms the nucleus of all activities in the institution especially in the area of research.
He said, in order to fast track the process, the university incorporated the uncial Solar Energy Company, which is serving as the Special Purpose Vehicle for the project.
Akpagu, who commended the initiative of the Yar’adua government that established the Nigerian-German Energy Partnership, described the ground breaking ceremony as a major milestone in the bilateral agreement between Nigeria and Germany.
He disclosed that the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital and the Cross River University of Technology are the initial uptakers of the solar energy project.
Also speaking, the Consul General of Germany, Herr Inglo Herbert, congratulated the Vice Chancellor for his courage and vision, stating that solar energy will provide an alternative and sustainable source of power needed for research.
The German Consul, who described UniCal as a model, said he was looking forward to exploring other areas of partnership with the institution.
He said, “this project is the future of this great institution because everything in the university requires power. It is fundamental to education. Our commitment is to make it happen”.
Speaking on behalf of the Technical Partners, Cantata Solar Limited, Mr. Jeremy Gains, who is also the coordinator of the project, said Unical, though the last university to come on board the solar energy project, moved well ahead of the first nine universities because of the commitment, drive and passion of the Vice-Chancellor and his team.
He explained that although Calabar has high volume of rainfall throughout the year, the city is, nevertheless, also blessed with high solar radiation which makes it suitable for citing of solar energy projects.
The former Minister of Power, Dr. Lanre Babalola, applauded the Vice Chancellor for the bold initiative and described the project as a dream come true.
Also speaking, a representative of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Engr. Kayode Adeloye, expressed admiration at the speed with which the University of Calabar is progressing with the solar energy project. He said he was sent by his university to come and confirm if actually the ground breaking was real and also inquire from authorities of the University of Calabar how they managed to get this far in such a short time.
While commending the Vice-Chancellor for a job well done, Engr. Adeloye, advised that the university should consider going beyond the initial two uptakers and extend light even to the surrounding communities as part of its corporate social responsibility.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, which is one of the uptakers of the solar energy project, Prof. Thomas Agan, expressed delight at the prospect of having constant electric power extended to the hospital.
While noting that epileptic power supply had been a major challenge in the Teaching Hospital, Agan promised to cooperate fully with the University of Calabar in discharging the Hospital’s financial obligations as soon as the project comes on stream.
Earlier, the Console General of Germany had paid a courtesy call on the Vice Chancellor in his office.
The ground breaking ceremony also featured cultural dances from various groups.