Nigeria Eyes $5bn African Energy Bank as Six Countries Mount Opposition

Nigeria Eyes $5bn African Energy Bank as Six Countries Mount Opposition

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

As African oil producers set to take a final decision on the plan to establish Africa’s first energy bank, with an initial capital of $5 billion, opposition against Nigeria has continued to swell, with at least six countries on the continent opposing the country’s bid for the location of the financial institution in Nigeria.

THISDAY learnt that six countries; Ghana, Egypt, South Africa, Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire as well as Algeria are mounting a fierce resistance against Nigeria.

The countries, it was understood, have been lobbying the power brokers who will make the final resolution on where the headquarters of the bank will be situated.

The jostle by all the interested countries as to the location of the planned financial institution has raised a lot of dust, just as the number of interested countries has continued to grow.

Apart from the aforementioned countries, other nations that will be taking the decision at the end of this month include: Angola, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Niger Republic and Senegal, while Venezuela is an honorary member.

In the coming years, the bank is expected to be very critical to the survival of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria as well as those of other oil-producing nations in Africa as the West continues to withdraw funding for fossil fuels.

It’s unclear how much Nigeria specifically needs to get its 38 billion barrels of oil reserves and 208 Trillion Cubic Feet  (TCF) out of the ground, but the Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Haitham al-Ghais, believes that a substantial investment of $14 trillion will be needed globally by 2045 to meet the escalating energy demand worldwide.

However, the African Petroleum Producers Association (APPO), led by Nigeria’s Farouk Ibrahim, recently announced that by the end of March, a final decision as to where the organisation will be located will be taken.

To underscore the importance of the funding deficit in the sector, even with the presence of International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the country, the industry is still seriously underfunded in Nigeria.

Already, APPO has laid out the conditions to be met by any country that is interested before the headquarters of the energy bank can be located anywhere on the continent.

It was gathered that some of the requirements include accessibly, including by air from any country, presence of amenities like hospitals, educational institutions, must have signed and ratified the establishment agreement of the charter of the bank, must provide a befitting proposed headquarters and must pay their financial obligations.

However, although a Nigerian leads APPO, THISDAY learnt that he can do little to influence the process. This much has been confirmed by Ibrahim, who said a few days ago that he is for now an African until he returns home after his tenure.

At the just-concluded Nigeria International Energy Summit (NIES), Ibrahim warned Nigeria about the danger of sitting back and expecting that the location of the headquarters of the organisers will come on a platter of gold because it is the biggest country in Africa.

“I’m pleased to say that by the middle of this year, this bank will take off.  Like I said earlier, by the end of the first quarter, a decision shall be taken on where to site the capital. Unfortunately, the representative or the president is not here to know that yes, I’m a Nigerian, but there is a limit to what anybody can do in international organisations.

“I am there as an African until I come back to become a Nigerian again. I say this because seriously speaking; I have gone to a number of our member countries. And the commitment and seriousness they have shown far exceeds what Nigeria is showing.

“I’ll give you a very good example. Last September, I was in Ghana. We went to see the president and the president asked the minister of finance, the minister of oil, his chief of staff and other senior people to sit with him as he received us,” he said.

At the meeting, he said the Ghanaian president immediately put everything in place along with his aides to ensure that the headquarters went to the country, stressing that on the visit to other countries, their commitment has been top-notch, except for Nigeria, which hadn’t done much.

“Ghana is sending money. They have shown us an office and so on. We can’t say that for Nigeria, because we are big brothers and say that it will just naturally come to us. So if Nigeria wants it, you need to sit up and show that you’re committed and determined to get it,” he warned.

But Nigeria insists that it has made concessions to other countries in the past and therefore reserves the right to have the bank situation in the country.

The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, representing the federal government, maintains that for instance even APPO should have ordinarily be in Nigeria, but that the country conceded it to Congo.

“We have made concessions to them in the past. We left it for Congo. We were almost getting it but former President Muhammadu Buhari said, ‘leave it for them’.

“In fact, everything was ready for Nigeria, but President Buhari in his wisdom, said look, let’s give it to Congo. So, I believe that other countries will pay us back. Nigeria has always conceded. So, let them concede to us this time around because this bank is so fundamental.

“The only way we cannot be held back is to optimise the potential that we have in the oil and gas industry and our inability to access finance. If we have access to financial investing, we continue invest just like the West did,” he said.

With huge reserves of oil and gas, Nigeria currently produces just over 1.4 million bpd and looks forward to producing 5.5 billion cubic feet of gas daily by 2030, a meagre number compared to the country’s huge reserves.

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