Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has called for more integration among countries within the West African sub-region towards providing lasting solutions to the region’s numerous energy challenges.
NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, made the call at a meeting he and other African oil ministers had with the United States Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, on the sidelines of the 19th CERAWeek Conference in Houston, United States of America..
Aocording to a statement from the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, Baru disclosed at the meeting that energy integration across the sub-region was necessary to drastically reduce unemployment and restiveness as well as improve the economies of affected countries.
He said Nigeria as a regional leader has encouraged regional integration by first putting up the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) to ensure gas is available to West African countries along its supply route.
“We are also doing the Trans Sahara Gas Pipeline (TSGP), even as we are intent on extending the WAGP to Morocco,” he added.
Baru explained that the intent of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), which the region backs, was to put up power plants and other gas-based industries along the power supply routes of countries within the region.
He also disclosed that Nigeria’s crude oil production had seen tremendous improvement in recent years, due to the government’s efforts at improving security in the Niger Delta region.
According to him, Nigeria and the US had been very good partners with about $35 billion worth of trade between the two countries.
The statement noted that Perry had in his remarks expressed the commitment of the US towards helping African countries achieve energy independence for the benefit of their people.
Perry said: “For our part we will support progress by engaging economically as well as championing open markets in societies. We endorse the modernisation of critical oil and gas infrastructure which leads to better security and diversification of energy supplies and exports.”
He reportedly described innovation as the surest path to energy security, adding that that once countries innovate, they would have greater economic growth, opportunities and national security.
“We support efforts to improve the regional interconnectivity. We also see energy access as critical to increasing prosperity and combating the cycle of poverty,” he added.
He said the US was well-positioned to share its resources, technology and know how with African countries, adding that his country would work towards transforming Africa’s domestic energy systems so that it would provide power, create jobs, foster development, open up new opportunities and improve almost every facet of human existence on the continent.
“The US is very eager to share its energy resources and expertise with the African continent. As we go forward, we want to be a desired partner in ensuring that the global energy market are supplied with the diversity of energy sources,” he stated.