Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has disclosed that out of the 37,000 shops located within the busy Ariaria International Market in Aba, Abia State, 4,000 have been connected to clean, affordable and stable electricity generated from a 9.5 megawatts (MW) gas-based power plant built under its Energising Economies Initiative (EEI) by a private investor.
It said other shops would be connected to the power system built by Ariaria Market Energy Solutions Limited (AMES), and recently commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Over a one year period, the REA said the federal government supported EEI which it implements to ensure rapid deployment of off-grid electricity solutions to provide clean, safe, affordable and reliable electricity to economic clusters such as market places; shopping centres and industrial facilities, would assist over 80,000 shops, empower over 340,000 micro, small and medium enterprises, as well as create over 2,500 jobs with the initial 16 economic clusters while serving over 18 million Nigerians.
It explained that Ariaria has 11 sections and over 37,000 shops with several trading activities including tailoring, textile trading, leather works and footwear production, printing, fabrication of tools and mechanical parts, pharmaceuticals, adding that AMES was the Special Project Vehicle (SPV) set up to fully fund, construct and managing the plant.
According to the agency, the Ariaria power system consists of a gas-fired power plant; an extensive distribution network and robust metering systems for each shop.
According to the agency, over 15,000 SMEs are currently receiving affordable and constant power supply to run their businesses, with
the project reportedly creating 250 direct jobs and 370 indirect jobs already in the market.
Speaking at the commissioning exercise, President Buhari said: “Jobs are created through investment in projects like this. This project shows progress can be made irrespective of political difference.”
Similarly, the Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu said: “We all rallied around and said we must do the needful to give Aba the option of which power source to choose and this is far better than whatever they have seen before now.
“I am happy to say that Aba is perhaps one of the few places where we have had uninterrupted power which will scale up. With this initiative, there is a great change in business here in Ariaria market.”
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, also said the petrol generators used in the market would following the power project’s inauguration, go out of operation.
According to him: “There used to be 6,000 generators in Ariaria Market producing hazardous emissions, but now it has been majorly eliminated through the implementation of federal government policies. Ariaria IPP now provides clean and reliable energy.”
The Managing Director of REA, Damilola Ogunbiyi, equally explained that so far, 10,000 shops in Ariaria, and four other markets across the country have been provided electricity through the EEI.
Ogunbiyi added: “It is therefore very clear that, this administration is committed to ensuring that Nigerian businesses are given the ability to thrive and thus boost economic activity in a conducive and healthy environment.”
Kachikwu: Africa’s Global Oil Exports to Rise by 15% in 2020
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said that hydrocarbon-rich African countries including Nigeria, would by 2020 see their oil production and net export to the world grow by 15 per cent.
Kachikwu, also said that in the last five years, nearly 30 per cent of oil and gas discoveries made across the world were from Sub-Saharan African countries.
According to him, by 2050, the continent’s oil and gas deposit would rise by 74 per cent, thus indicating that African oil producers would need to review their policy in the sector to make the most of the upcoming opportunities.
Speaking at the second edition of the Nigerian International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) in Abuja recently, Kachikwu, explained that Nigeria on its part had begun to initiate reforms to revamp its oil industry. He also called for a robust cooperation between African oil producers ahead of the projected changes.
The minister equally called Africa’s oil producers to make their oil and gas resources work for the development of their economies and not just as revenue earners.
“Africa today has enormous potential in hydrocarbon resources. Africa is home to several major petroleum producers which include Nigeria Angola, Libya and these are being joined by emerging producers, such as Mozambique and Tanzania. The region’s existing energy resources are more than sufficient to meet its overall needs.
“Africa offers tremendous potential for exploration, production and utilisation of natural gas reserves. The continent is set to be a hub for natural gas production and export with market potential in Asia-Pacific and Europe.
“Africa’s place as a significant producer and net exporter of oil in the world is forecast to grow by 15 per cent by 2020 due to new discoveries in some Sub-Sahara countries. In the last five years nearly 30 per cent of the world’s oil and gas discoveries were in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Kachikwu.
He further explained: “It is estimated that Africa oil and gas will increase by 74 per cent by 2050. We need the right policies, the right partnerships and the right investments. And now is the only time.
“The type of partnership needed is one that will create wealth and value in our continent. The oil and gas industry needs to become an enabler for Africa economic growth and not just a revenue earner. An economy is powered by adequate energy and moved by infrastructure.”
Referring to Nigeria, he stated that the country’s petroleum industry was still critical to her economic development, adding that the government was taking up reforms which cut across every facet of the industry, particularly to enshrine transparency and removes barriers to the participation of new small and big players through clear rules of engagement.
“The benefits are clear to see, our new JV cash call arrangements and repayment plans has been successful and sustained enabling increased investment by operators. For the first time in a long time, all payments were made as agreed and as scheduled and all backlog payments are being repaid in accordance with agreed plans.
“Part of our efforts for harnessing the currently 202 trillion cubic feet proven reserves is to boost gas supply to meet the extraordinary gas demand for power and commercial usage,” he noted.
According to him, asides the effort in domestic gas supply, the country would also expand its frontiers in the gas export market.
“The FEED contract for NLNG Train 7 was signed in July 2018 and this is expected to be completed in Q1 2019. We have also an executed MoU between NNPC and Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (ONHYM) Morocco for collaboration in the construction of a gas pipeline from Nigeria to Morocco (NGMP).
“The NGMP Feasibility Study was completed in July 2018 and the FEED Phase 1 scope is expected to be completed by end of Q1, 2019,” he said.