EU to support Nigeria in rural electrification

Electricity10 December 2013, Abuja – The European Union, EU, has agreed to partner with the Federal Government to ensure the provision of electricity to rural communities not captured in the national grid.

To this end, the two have agreed to hold further meetings with a view to working out areas of cooperation towards building enhanced power infrastructure and improve electricity supply to the country.

Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo informed the EU delegation, led by Ambassador Michel Arrion, Head of EU Delegation to Africa and ECOWAS at a meeting in Abuja that the Federal Government had embarked on a robust programme of electrification of the rural areas in Nigeria not captured in the national grid.

Nebo, who expressed sadness that the EU countries showed little enthusiasm during the massive privatisation programme the nation recently concluded, explained that the lukewarm attitude gave room for countries like China to seize the momentum by investing billions of dollars in the power sector during the period.

He also said that the EU countries still had a golden chance to plunge their teeth into the huge chunk of opportunities being provided in the area of rural electrification, particularly in exploring investment initiatives, provision of expertise and assistance in capacity building of renewable energy on which the fresh initiative, which pilot projects have already begun is hinged, to enable the programme succeed.

He also notified the delegation that such assistance could also come in the area of energy conservation, stating that since about 90 percent of the energy usage in the country was dedicated to lighting, it would be good to develop energy efficient bulbs, which he believed the EU countries had the expertise to achieve.

Assuring that the demographic indicators on investment in Nigeria were quite encouraging to stimulate the interest of the EU, he said it was necessary for the body, which members were Nigeria’s old allies to invest in the development of critical infrastructure in the sector.

The Minister also spoke to his visitors on funding expectation, saying for instance that he was concerned that a particular fund the ministry’s training institute was supposed to draw from, by NAPTIN had not materialized, and wondered whether there were conditionalities Nigeria had not met.

In his remark, Ambassador Michel Arrion, while acknowledging that the EU members actually had the capacity to assist in the areas outlined by the Minister, assured of the possibility of a robust relationship of investment and assistance.

Stating that EU countries had experience in off-grid power provision, he said that attracting investment in that area was quite key. He added that his team was interested in developing a conducive environment for such investment. This will be done through the provision of funding gap from its grants to match other funds from financial institutions and other multilateral agencies for the execution of power projects.

– Vanguard

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