ABUJA (Reuters) – Foreign utilities and engineering firms could invest billions of dollars in the privatisation of Nigeria’s power sector if it comes good on pledges to build a strong regulatory framework, executives said on Thursday.
Industry executives and financiers from the United States, Europe, Canada, China, India, Russia, the Middle East and Africa are meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan and his government at a 2-day seminar to discuss the privatisation plans.
Jonathan unveiled the most comprehensive blueprint yet to end chronic power shortages in Africa’s most populous nation in August and a credible reform programme could help boost his popularity ahead of elections due next year.
“Today less than half of our citizens have access to electricity,” Jonathan told the conference.
“We expend about $13 billion every year providing power from diesel generators when we require only about $10 billion per year of investment over the next few years to develop our generation, distribution and transmission capacities,” he said.
The “presidential retreat” with investors in the capital Abuja is the first formal opportunity for the private sector to quiz the government on its plans.
Indian shipping-to-telecoms conglomerate Essar is among those considering investing and could over time pump some $2 billion into the West African country.
“We will wait and see how things go but our aim is to do 2,000 megawatts. We can always start with say 200, 400 megawatts … You are looking at $1 million per megawatt if you use gas,” an official from the firm told Reuters, asking not to be named.
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