Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Electricity generation companies (Gencos) have expressed optimistism that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) signed last Sunday in Niamey, Niger Republic by all heads of government of the African Union, including President Muhammadu Buhari, would boost power generation and supply in the continent.
The Executive Secretary, Association of the Power Generation Companies (APGC), Joy Ogaji, in a statement wednesday, said that the due diligence conducted prior to the agreement and the corresponding cohesion with several interest groups, have assured the operators of a conducive operational environment.
Against this background, Ogaji expressed confident that the AfCFTA agreement would boost intra-Africa trade among African countries from the current 16 per cent to about 60 per cent.
She, however, warned that the benefits of the AfCFTA agreement to Nigeria might not be fully realised until the problems of the power sector are fully addressed.
She urged government to demonstrate a renewed zeal and focus on solving the power sector problems to re-position Nigeria amongst the leading industrialising countries capable of satisfy the ever-increasing demands for power in many industries and factories in the country.
Ogaji stated: “Resolving the power supply issue will make consumer goods, machineries, equipment and tools flood the African/global consumer markets. It will also bring about increased employment and empowerment of the youth.
“Nigeria’s potential to become one of the world’s largest economies will remain just an aspiration without the electricity required to pursue aggressive industrialisation, including the revitalisation of moribund local industries.”
Ogaji stressed that AfCFTA as the biggest economy in Africa, with Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of about $400 billion, the new agreement clearly presents Nigeria the potential opportunity to play a more active role in both the regional and global economy.
According to her, “Under the agreement, there will be no quota system; trade will be conducted according to trading capacity; exports of goods and services will be cheaper, leading to more competitive pricing.”
Ogaji added that the signing of the agreement was not only a welcome development, but also a stirring indication that the Buhari administration is ready for business.
She said: “The business includes the commitment by the government to address the challenges capable of hampering GENCOs from discharging their mandates.
“The critical role of power as a veritable physical infrastructural tool for economic growth, industrialisation and development cannot be over-emphasized.
“The availability of adequate power supply is directly proportional to the associated extensive technology-based development in the production and manufacturing sector.
“Steady and regular power supply is needed for different type of industries, where goods, appliances, tools, instruments, machines, modern communication equipment and gadgets, vehicles, aircrafts, ships are manufactured.”
To resolve the problems in the power sector therefore, Gencos stressed the need for an apolitical environment through the design and implementation of viable policies, strong and experienced leadership/coordination of the sector.
GENCOs also called for enforceable regulations underpinned by best industry practices focused on solving the hurdles to effective and efficient generation, transmission and distribution of power.