By Offiong Ita
There is more to Reverend Sister Lillian Chibiko than meets the eye and in a chat with SI Magazine, she opened up on why she opted to venture into exploring the possibilities in solar power generation and biogas, Hardly does anyone today remember if there was ever a time when there was constant power supply in this country, but with the turn of the century came the call on the Federal Government by many to, as a matter of urgency, look inward to end the incessant power outages, which have, without question, crippled the nation’s industrial sector. But then, though the gas turbines have refused to work, the sun will never refuse to shine. Dependence on solar power by most of the modern world has shown that we can tap into it as well, just by getting the unbridled sunshine of tropical Africa to work for us. Why this source of energy, available to us all year round, has been left untapped could be due to the factor we wail about and blame for everything – corruption.
Rev. Sis Chibiko is a woman who moved to back up her words with action and today; she is into fabricating solar panels locally. How did she get here? “While I was in a convent in Uganda, one of my colleagues, a Ugandan, saw an opportunity
Where we could learn the production of solar panels and utilise biogas. I was interested and she got me involved. “In no time, we mastered the art. When I was ready to return home, I decided to teach the people more than the Word [of God]; I decided to teach them how to make solar panels. “On my return, I sent some youths to Uganda to learn the production, marketing and installation of solar panels. When they got back, we got into partnership with the Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic in Afikpo, Ebonyi State and in no time, the art of making these panels became a part of the school’s curriculum. We got a Centre in the school’s Entrepreneurship Faculty, equipped it with our tools and started production. We teach production, marketing and installation of solar panels, utilization of biogas and also, water heaters.”
Many may consider it a man’s profession, but Sister Chibiko gets a kick out of her second love. “There is no specific job for any sex or class of people. During our last admission exercise, two ladies opted for solar panel production, because they saw me as an inspiration. They said, ‘If a Reverend Sister can do it, then we can.”
It does not even remotely mean that things have been all rosy, at least, not where financing, there is no specific job for any sex or class of people. During our last admission exercise, two ladies opted for solar panel production, because they saw me as an inspiration, project has been concerned. “The solar cell we used to buy with less than $3 is now $6.
To build the capacity of the smallest generating set, you need about 36 cells, which is $6 by 36. How many families can afford that? We are hoping for the naira dollar exchange rate to stabilize, so that we can build the capacity of the smallest generating set and help small households’ boast of a basic need.” Despite the challenges, Sister Chibiko is doing all she can to see that her business model is
There is no specific job for any sex or class of people. During our last admission exercise, two ladies opted for solar panel production, because they saw me as an inspiration
Commercialized. “Plans are underway to set up a factory, but I need partners, seeing as I don’t have the financial muscle to run it alone.
If I get people to join me, we can set up a big factory where we will train and produce [the panels] for commercial purposes.”
By Offiong Ita