N20.8bn U.S-backed power project coming

Power Transmission07 July 2014, Abuja – The United States (U.S) Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James P. Entwistle, at the weekend in Abuja said work on a new N20.8 billion power project in Nigeria will begin this month.

The ambassador spoke in Abuja on America’s 238th National Day celebration.

He said the 450 megawatts (MW) project is part of President Barack Obama’s “Power Africa” programme.

The project, Entwistle explained, is in support of Nigeria’s infrastructural development.

He said: “Our U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has a strong presence in and incredible commitment to Nigeria. From agriculture to infrastructure, our development experts are hard at work, partnering your government to produce sustainable, Nigerian-led solutions to the development challenges you face. One particular highlight is President Obama’s ‘Power Africa’ programme, which already is attracting private sector investment that will result in power capacity and generation for Nigeria’s electricity grid.

“A great example of this is the Azura Energy Project. With USAID backing and support, $130 million in venture capital was raised. The construction is slated to start this month and will add 450 MW of power to Nigeria’s electricity grid when it is completed.

“This project underlines that development is no longer just a government-to-government activity and that the role of the private sector is key. That’s why I’m delighted that some of the most well known U.S. companies are active here in Nigeria.”

On the 2015 elections, the ambassador said the U.S was committed to helping Nigeria achieve free, fair and credible elections.

“We’re also deeply committed to helping you ensure that your elections, particularly the national ones in 2015, are free, fair, peaceful, and credible. We work closely with your Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure that the process is transparent, well monitored, and secure. Safeguarding and strengthening democracy is difficult work.  But the recent Ekiti elections were an excellent example of what happens when all players—the government, citizens, security forces, and political parties—commit  to ensuring respect for the electoral process and for one another.”

Entsistle added: “As you’ve probably seen, I and the rest of the U.S. Mission team in Nigeria have been speaking out about the importance of non-violent elections, and we will continue to do so. Once again, I urge all parties and candidates to publicly commit themselves now to not condoning, urging or fomenting violence before, during or after the elections next year.

“I want to close by emphasising how optimistic I am about Nigeria. Since I arrived last November, I’ve been privileged to travel throughout the South, the Middle Belt and the North, and I’m constantly impressed by the resiliency and ingenuity of the Nigerian people. I’ve met farmers, herders, activists, politicians, pastors, imams and students.

“I’m struck by how much more unites them than separates them. They all want to participate in a strong, active democracy. They all want better roads, better schools and more access to basic services, such as clean water and electricity. They want more economic opportunity for themselves and their families…”

– The Nation

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