Nigeria may not benefit much from the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area agreement until the country’s power problems are adequately addressed, power generation companies said on Wednesday.
On Sunday, President Muhammadu joined other heads of government of the African Union in Niamey, Niger Republic, to sign the AfCFTA agreement.
But electricity firms under the aegis of the Association of the Power Generation Companies, in a congratulatory message to the President, made available to our correspondent in Abuja, noted that without adequate power supply, the benefits of the agreement to Nigeria would be minimal.
The APGC said, “In direct relation to the just-signed AfCFTA agreement, the benefits it poses to Nigeria may not be fully reaped until the problems of the power sector are fully addressed.
“Goods and services offered by the country may not be comparatively/competitively priced, when compared to other nations with better power supply. Thus, the cumulative result of a significant boost in trade and, therefore, the economy, may not be realised.”
The association added, “For instance, steel mills consume a huge amount of power to convert pig iron blocks to liquefied iron, mixed with ingredients such as carbon, alloys and chemicals to change into a different type of steel, alloy, bars, rods, H-beams, sheet metals, etc.”
The Gencos said in the mining industry, changing the mineral deposit and ores from the mines to concentrate metal blocks also required a huge amount of power.
According to them, hospitals need uninterrupted electricity supply 24 hours a day for many health care functions and operation of patients, and universities require constant electricity to undertake high level research and development works.
The power firms, however, said the development was a welcome one and a stirring indication that the Buhari administration was ready for business.
They said the government, through the signing of the agreement, had shown commitment to addressing the challenges that might hamper this laudable move including hurdles faced by the power generating companies.
The Gencos said, “This is even so given that adequate power supply plays a critical role in the development of the social sector, education, health, transportation and industrialisation of a nation.”
According to them, the recently signed trade agreement calls for a renewed zeal and focus in solving the power sector conundrum, so as to position Nigeria among leading industrialised countries to satisfy the ever-increasing demands for power in many industries and factories across the country.
“The power firms said, “The impact of the inadequate power supply is multifarious. Nigeria’s potential to become one of the world’s largest economies will remain just an aspiration without the electricity required to pursue aggressive industrialisation, including the revitalisation of moribund local industries.”
In a related development, a non-governmental organisation, Social Action, has said the signing of the AfCFTA by Buhari signified that it is time to implement the nation’s National Industrial Revolution Plan.
In a statement issued by the organisation’s Programme Officer, Mr Botti Isaac, in Abuja on Wednesday, the NGO said the country must implement the plan in order to position itself to take full advantage of the continental free trade zone.
Isaac said, “Time cannot be better than now to pursue and implement the National Industrial Revolution Plan to strengthen the country’s industrial sector, to empower it to effectively compete with those of other climates.
“It must also ensure genuine diversification of the economy by affecting a paradigm shift from the mono-product situation of the country to multi-product to afford Nigeria the impetus to harness not just the new African trade deal but others as the proposed open European Union markets.
“The AFCFTA, therefore, offers ample opportunity for industrialisation and job creation as it has provided the platform for Small and Medium Enterprises in Nigeria to connect to regional and continental value chains while consolidating the country’s position as the biggest economy in Africa.”