Yar’Adua announces major rehabilitation of Nigerian power sector

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With Nigeria’s power generation at perhaps an all-time low, President Umaru Yar’Adua announced Friday in Paris that his administration would formally declare an emergency in the country’s power sector next month, the Nigerian state house said in a statement.

Responding to concerns expressed by prospective French investors over current power supply problems in Nigeria, President Yar’Adua said that under the emergency, which will be in force for three years, the federal and state governments would set aside US$5 billion for the rehabilitation and expansion of Nigeria’s power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure.

The President told the gathering of French businessmen that after the three-year emergency period, Nigeria’s generation and distribution infrastructure would be privatised, while its transmission infrastructure would remain under the control of a state-owned company.

He said that Nigeria would seek additional financing from international finance institutions for the rehabilitation and expansion of its power infrastructure, adding that his administration intended to establish a proper foundation for the increment of Nigeria’s power generation capacity to about 50,000 megawatts by the year 2020.

President Yar’Adua had said, during his electioneering campaign last year, that he would immediately declare a power emergency on assumption of office, as part of measures aimed at raising power generation in the country.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of 140 million, currently generates far less than 2,000 megawatts of electricity, which is not less than enough to power the economic capital city of Lagos.

The low generation has led to massive load shedding (power outages) in recent times, triggering widespread calls on the President to declare the emergency.

On the Niger Delta, the President said that a summit of all stakeholders in the region would take place next month, in furtherance of his administration’s efforts to address the causes of militancy and violent agitation in the area.

Before leaving Paris for Abuja, President Yar’Adua met with African Ambassadors to France.

He told them that as Africa’s representatives in one of the world’s major economies, they had a duty to make the continent’s case for equity to its development partners and to present its perspectives on the critical socio-economic, developmental and political issues in a fast-globalising world.

“In the reality of today’s world, you have a responsibility and obligation as Africans to form yourselves into a functional, pro-active and effective synergy to drive our continent’s quest for regeneration.

“In the spirit of our collective quest for enhanced continental integration and eventual Union Government, you are obliged to speak with a single, strong African voice on issues that pertain to the continent’s desire for the evolvement of a globally competitive regional economy.

“In that way, we can ensure that we work collectively to extricate Mother Africa from the vicious cycle of underdevelopment, endemic poverty and instability,” President Yar’Adua told the Ambassadors.

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