The European Union (EU) is set to become one of Nigeria’s key partners in the provision of electricity to the rural areas not captured in the national grid following a meeting between the ministry of power and members of the EU delegation.
The two parties have agreed to hold future meetings to work out areas of cooperation towards building enhanced power infrastructure and improve electricity supply in the country, especially in off-grid rural communities.
The resolution was reached at a meeting between the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo and EU delegation led by Ambassador Michel Arrion, Head of EU Delegation to Africa and ECOWAS, in Abuja, recently.
The minister told the delegation that the federal government had embarked on a robust programme of electrification of Nigeria’s rural areas not captured in the national grid, while seeking the EU’s support in this regard.
Nebo, who expressed sadness that the EU countries showed little enthusiasm during the massive privatisation programme in the nation recently, 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 however, noted that EU countries can still invest in opportunities being provided in the area of rural electrification, particularly in exploring investment initiatives, provision of expertise and capacity building in renewable energy.
Against the background that 90 per cent of energy usage in Nigeria is dedicated to lighting, Nebo also told the delegation that their assistance could further come in the area of energy conservation by way of developing energy efficient bulbs, an area they have expertise.
In his remarks, the Ambassador, who acknowledged 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 in investment and other areas of assistance.
Arrion noted that his team was interested in developing a conducive environment for such investment especially through the provision of funding from its grants to match other funds from financial institutions and other multilateral agencies for the execution of power projects.
He pointed out that EU countries have experience in off-grid power provision adding that attracting investment in that area was quite key.
In a related development, Nebo has assured a visiting trade and investment delegation from South Africa, led by the Deputy Minister for Trade and Investment, Ms Elizabeth Thabethe, that Nigeria’s fledging power sector still offers a lot of business opportunities to South-Africa.
“We are desirous of doing business with South-Africa, the telecommunication giant MTN, Shoprite and other South African companies are doing well here, we want more of them in the power sector too,” he said.