Xenophobia: How CREN seeks to turn Nigerian returnees into renewable technologists

Mazino Dickson

It’s no longer news that the news space has been dominated by the raging xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

Nigerians have been affected with many businesses destroyed, and as a result the evacuation of victims from the crisis-strewn streets of South Africa back to Nigeria has commenced.

While this is clearly tragic, it just might be an opening for the nation’s renewable energy tech scene.

This is because the Council for Renewable Energy Nigeria (CREN)  has vowed to train returnee Nigerians in renewable energy technologies for free – which would enable them build renewable energy start-ups across the country.

This will ensure that they not only rebuild their already shattered lives, but also play a critical role in driving Nigeria’s green agenda and expanding business opportunities within the sector.


Sunny Akpoyibo, President of the Council for Renewable Energy Nigeria (CREN). has vowed to drive the Nigerian green agenda and fight climate change using renewable technologies

Speaking in Abuja, Dr Sunny Akpoyibo, President of CREN, said interested returnees would commence entry-level careers in the solar PV industry at the Asteven Renewable Energy Academy.

Nigeria is richly endowed and we shall not allow our people to be cast adrift after losing all they have worked hard for over the years,” he said.

In support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s next level vision to change the Nigerian story, a part of which is ensuring that all Nigerians have marketable skills.

In support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s next level vision to change the Nigerian story, a part of which is ensuring that all Nigerians have marketable skills.

We are offering this opportunity to all interested returnees to come learn technical skills and participate in a business that is commercially viable, environmentally sound and has social importance,” he added.

Akpoyibo noted that the training would provide returnees the opportunity to immediately get back on their feet as fully trained technicians in the fast growing global renewable energy industry.

The Council shall liaise with the House Committee on Diaspora and the Nigerian Diaspora Commission to ensure that the returnee Nigerians are contacted and provided this opportunity. It doesn’t just stop there,” he opined.

They will also be trained on setting up renewable energy businesses, provided with product loans, mentorship and partner support to enable them become fully proficient in the industry; expand their skills sets and business portfolios.”

Nigerians departing South Africa via the Oliver Thambo airport, Johannesburg

The renewable energy buff revealed that the CREN/ASTEVEN Group Photovoltaic Installer Level 1 (PVI1) certification course from Asteven Renewable Energy Academy was designed for beginners, so previous experience with electronics/electricity is not necessary but is helpful.

Akpoyibo promised that trainees would benefit from real world, hands-on experience.

What is CREN?

Established in 2007, CREN established under the purview of state and civil society institutions, is a private member-based association that consistently and actively advocates for the promotion and deployment of renewable energy technologies in Nigeria; not just as a vehicle for power and energy security but a vehicle for social entrepreneurship and empowerment of the Nigerian people.

Global renewable energy scene

The UN Global Climate Action Summit in its Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2019 report states that in the last decade, global investment in new renewable energy capacity has hit the USD 2.6 trillion mark.

With Nigeria still grappling with the challenges of power supply, many experts and analysts have pointed in the direction of renewable technologies to revive the nation’s power sector.

It is possible that if this project by CREN succeeds, a new window of opportunity would be opened not just for the Nigerian returnees fleeing xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

But more critically, massive investment opportunities would galvanise more expertise from the Nigerian diaspora in this field.