25 October 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The Canadian Government has revealed interest by some major energy companies in the country to invest in Nigeria’s power sector.
The Canadian government noted that as a second global energy superpower, it is interested in the unfolding development in the Nigeria’s electricity market, and has sought specific areas of participation in the country’s power plan.
The Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr. Chris Cooter and his Deputy, Mr. Jean Gauthier dropped this hint on Tuesday when they paid a scheduled visit to the Minister of Power, Professor Bart Nnaji in his office in Abuja.
According to the High Commissioner, “There is a global awareness that something massive is unfolding in the power industry in Nigeria,” even as he sought from the Minister certain specific areas of challenge the Canadian firms could participate in.
“The air indicates that something is enveloping Nigeria’s capacity to lead the world,” we are here to compliment these efforts to resolve your electricity challenges and galvanize your industrial leadership of Africa,” he added.
The envoys predicted an explosion of employment in the sector as soon as the reforms are through and allayed the current fears being entertained by workers on lay-offs.
Mr. Cooter announced that major Canadian energy companies will be visiting Nigeria soon to join other multinational Corporation in bidding for certain areas of the Nigerian electricity sector, especially Hydro where he noted, Canada has the highest comparative advantage in the world.
The High Commissioner said such institutional structures as bulk trader and focus on privatization are already exciting global investors adding that the country’s bidding process was helping matters and urged that the “foot remains on throttle” to stamp out institutional corruption. “Canada will go the whole hog with you,” the envoy pledged.
In response, the Minister of Power, Professor Bart Nnaji expressed Nigeria’s readiness to partner with Canadian construction giants in the Mambilla and Gurara hydro electric power projects expected to jointly produce 3,300MW of electricity.
He told the visiting Canadian Envoys that reforms in the power sector have institutional and legislature backing and as a result, their implementation has been procedurally systematic to avoid loopholes that ruined past efforts in the sector.
On the need to involve the State Governments in the sector, Nnaji stated that the makers of Nigerian Constitution put electricity in the Federal Exclusive Legislative list thereby imposing the authority to construct, produce, regulate and supervise the sector on the central government.
He quickly stressed that the Federal Administration will encourage the State Governments at regional level and revealed that because of the sensitive nature of the sector, the Federal Government would discourage mutation of State run power stations that could possibly be mismanaged in future and take Nigeria back to abyss again.
Nnaji said Nigeria is carefully monitoring the distribution efficiency of the existing stations as well as the tariff to incentivise the value chain. “We are guarding against mistakes of the
past while addressing other institutional lapses through the strengthening of National Power Training
Institute (NAPTIN) and ensuring that World Bank commitment to the issue of bulk trading is not lost,” the Minister announced.
Also on labour agitations against reforms, the Minister told his guests that labour leaders justifiably fight for their members and that “they are elected to do that” but noted that some of their agitations were motivated by the self-centeredness of their leaders and assured however, “that all grievances would be addressed at all cost.”
The Minister said the Federal Government recognized that corruption in the power sector had been a serious impediment to the efficiency and effectiveness of the sector and assured that the government was not taking the matter lightly.
Also on hand to receive the Canadians was the Minister of State for Power, Arc. Darius Ishaku.