The Federal Government, Tuesday, flagged-off the construction of the General Electric’s (GE’s) $1 billion (about N160 billion) multi-model power manufacturing and services facility in Calabar, Cross River State.
Specifically, the investment, which involved $250 million capital expenditure and over $800 million incremental spending on local sourcing of goods and services, would create 2,300 jobs and make Nigeria the regional hub for GE’s manufacturing service and renovation in Africa.
The project, which followed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the American firm and the Federal Government in January, is expected to provide additional 4,000 mega watts to the national grid by the end of the year..
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who officially laid the foundation stone at the ground breaking ceremony in Calabar, said by the project, GE has proven to be a strategic partner in the ongoing transformation programme of the Federal Government, particularly in the power sector.
He expressed optimism that the company’s wide range of experience in energy, transportation and welfare would undoubtedly strengthen the on-going reforms in the sectors and enhance the transformation agenda.
Jonathan, who was represented at the ceremony by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, affirmed that innovation in information, communication technology and effective power delivery, plays critical roles in stimulating economic growth.
The project therefore is expected to impact significantly on the power sector and would aid the vision 20-2020 agenda of the Federal Government.
He pointed out that infrastructure deficit was a major challenge to countries across the continent, while Nigeria is not an exception.
To bridge the infrastructure gap, he said the government is developing an emergency to immediately apply the right resources and the right solutions.
“We have now stepped up our infrastructure expenditure to about seven per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, we require a consistent investment of at least 12 per cent of GDP,” he stated.
Restating the government commitment to Public-Private Partnership, he said the partnership with GE is therefore in the right direction, as it focused on value chain localization and indigenous capacity building.
The president further assured that the power sector reforms is on course, expressing optimism that the programme would bring significant Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and improve power output in the country.
He said the government is fast tracking the implementation of 10 new power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) scheme, adding, “From July, one new power plant will be commissioned by the president on monthly basis.”
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga said the ground breaking ceremony further demonstrated that the current administration was not just interested in investment commitments, but in monitoring the processes to the execution stage.
He noted that GE had, over the past 125 years, swiftly evolved to seize new opportunities created by changes in technology and the economy as a frontline multi-business organisation.
“It is therefore not surprising that the company has moved smartly to explore the favourable investment opportunities that abound in Nigeria. Today, the company is building new platforms in industries and markets with GDP growth that provide opportunities to apply acquired technology and management expertise to accelerate development and growth in both developed and emerging economies”, Aganga said.
The Global Vice Chairman, GE, John Rice, appreciated the state government for making it easy to float the investment, which he described as the second of its type from GE worldwide.
Rice said the company is determined to grow local capacity, disclosing that about $250 million of the capital expenditure would be devoted to manufacturing and service facility, while about $800 million would be spent on the development of local resources, goods and services, labour and qualitative training in the next five years.
He assured: “We are going to recruit the world’s most talented people. That is what we have been doing all over the world and that is what we are going to do here in Nigeria.”
Information from The Guardian was used in this report.