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Sunday, June 7, 2015

U.S “anxious” to work with Buhari on power privatization

The United States government has expressed its readiness to work with the newly sworn-in Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, to tackle the electricity problem in the country.

Andy Herscowitz, coordinator for Trade Africa and Power Africa, disclosed this Thursday during a press briefing with the US delegation to the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Nigeria is one of the markets that offers us the greatest potential for achieving our megawatt goals, given the gas privatization that has taken place over the last few years,” Mr. Herscowitz said during a question and answer session.

“We are anxious to work with the new incoming government to find opportunities to make sure that that privatization process stays on track.

“We have several transaction advisors on the ground in Nigeria, and we have a very active team at the U.S. Embassy that is already engaged, and has been engaging, with the incoming government to find opportunities to make sure that these projects will continue to advance.

“Nevertheless, while we are looking at the large gas projects in Nigeria, we continue to also look for other projects in the off-grid and renewable space as well.”

Power Africa is an initiative of President Barrack Obama which was launched when he travelled to South Africa about two years ago, with the goal of doubling access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr. Herscowitz said the initial goal of the project was to add 10,000 megawatts and 20 million connections to the region, but after the first year, the goal was tripled to 30,000 megawatts and 60 million connections.

According to Mr. Herscowitz, Power Africa is a partnership among more than a dozen US government agencies, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the government of Sweden, and the private sector all of which had committed about US$30 billion.

It is the first ever presidential initiative based outside of the US.

“In addition to trying to work on big energy deals, which obviously will help us reach our larger goals, we quickly realized that we couldn’t only focus on these large energy projects that are on the grid that stand to benefit businesses that are in the big cities and people who are connected to the grid,” Mr. Herscowitz said.

“Rather, there are millions of people who aren’t even part of the energy master plan in many of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Which is why just about a year ago, we also launched Beyond the Grid, which focuses on the off-grid and renewable space.”

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