02 December 2015, Abuja – The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, has said the solution to Nigeria’s electricity challenges is for the Nigerian government to create an enabling environment that will encourage large private power companies to invest in the energy sector.
Entwistle spoke at the sideline briefly after a familiarisation visit to the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onu, in Abuja, where he advocated for a stronger private sector participation in the energy sector.
According to him, his country has assisted and supported Nigeria in nuclear energy, adding that: “What we have done in nuclear energy in the past with Nigeria had been related to safety and we are very committed to increasing the power sector through our Power Africa programme and that is more with increasing generation through the private sector.”
Reacting to Onu’s request for technology transfer in the area of biotechnology, the ambassador said: “The U.S would want to see what the minister has in mind specifically, and anything that he sends to us shall be looked at with great interest and see what is possible that can be done as quickly as possible.
“I have discovered in my two years as the U.S ambassador that we share a rich and vibrant partnership on several sectors, as the two countries have been doing wonderful things for decade.
“The minister and I have had a good chart on biotechnology as we look to expand agriculture production. We also have a relationship on nuclear safety. I’m committed to working with your ministry.”
On assistance to Nigeria in the energy sector, he stated that: “We are looking for a stronger role in the private sector for the power industry. We are also looking for better transmission and distribution and creating the condition that will encourage large private power companies to invest in the energy sector in Nigeria.
“The US see the private power sector as the solution to the many power challenges that you face.”
In his remark, Onu, acknowledged that the US economy is driven through innovation using science and technology. “You have been able to maintain your economy because it is innovation-driven and knowledge based.
“That is why when there is turbulence in other economies, you can stand the shock because you have a strong economy driven by innovation, and this is the direction that Nigeria wants to go. For a long time, Nigeria has had a mono product economy,” he said.
He added that the Ministry of Science and Technology is determined to help Nigeria diversified its economy using science and technology. The minister said there was no doubt that the country is blessed with enormous resources, adding that what is need is to channel its human capacity through technology transfer to build a solid foundation for the economy.
Onu added that Nigeria would rely on assistance from US companies in the area of technology transfer to kick off its economy.