Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Nigeria, U.S. officials meet over energy crisis

With a major meeting set for tomorrow and Friday in Washington DC, the United States (U.S.) capital, between top Nigerian and American officials, the President Barack Obama administration may have decided to get more involved in helping Nigeria solve its electricity generation problems.
According to sources, the meeting would consider quick and practical solutions to the power sector crisis in Nigeria under the aegis of the recently-signed U.S.-Nigerian Bi-National Commission.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the U.S., Prof. Adebowale Adefuye, confirmed that the second working group of the bi-national commission, which will focus on energy and investment, would hold tomorrow and Friday at the U.S. State Department.

The Nigerian delegation to the meeting will be led by the Permanent Secretary,
 Ministry of Petroleum. It will include directors from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the ministries of Power, Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Water Resources.

Adefuye confirmed that “one of the issues to be discussed is the possibility of accelerated increase in the quantity of power generated using all possible means,
 including nuclear energy.
“Interested U.S.-based companies under the auspices of the Corporate Council on Africa, which President Goodluck Jonathan addressed during his visit, will present proposals for accelerated power generation and distribution in Nigeria in line with the President’s promise to Nigerians.”
Sources said the foundation of the U.S. determination to assist President Jonathan on the power sector problem was laid during the Nigerian President’s recent visit to the U.S.

It was also learnt that the World Bank has again offered concrete assistance towards revamping Nigeria’s power sector.
According to sources, a senior U.S. government official on Energy, Mr. David Goldwyn, was last week in Washington detailed by the Obama administration to facilitate the U.S. government assistance to Nigeria on the power problem.

Goldwyn is the State Department’s Co-ordinator for International Energy Affairs. Sources told The Guardian that Goldwyn last week Wednesday held a closed-door meeting “with private sector energy and electricity companies active in Nigeria at the Department of State.”

Although no details of the Goldwyn’s meeting had been released, a Senior Media Advisor at the U.S. State Department, Kerry S. Humphrey, confirmed that the meeting held, adding that its details would be discussed later this week, apparently after the second working group would have met in Washington.
It is believed that the working group would develop a specific proposal to tackle the Nigerian power issue with the assistance of the U.S. State Department’s Energy Co-ordinator.

A source said: “The goal is to have a firm action plan in place which implementation will start immediately after the meeting with a delegation of U.S. experts taking off to Nigeria right after the meeting.”
The Obama administration is said to be keen on supporting President Jonathan on the power sector problem following Washington’s favourable appraisal of the Federal Government actions so far under the new Nigerian President.

The U.S. government may have also determined that Nigeria is again a reliable partner or ally, hence the helping hands it has decided to lend the country to solve its power problems.
This explains, according to sources, the deployment of several top U.S. government officials to deal with the Nigerian government. Indeed, there are no fewer than four senior U.S. officials directly supervising different aspects of U.S.-Nigeria relations.


Related stories: Deji Badmus reports on electricity crisis in Nigeria 

Goodluck Jonathan pledges to resolve power crises

CNN reports on Nigeria's electricity crisis

Nation in Darkness

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