By Daniel Alfred
THE American Ambassador to Nigeria, Robin R. Sanders has disclosed that the U.S. Government is collaborating with the government and with the Independent Power Providers Association of Nigeria (IPPAN) to implement one of its top priorities, increasing electricity generation to 10.000 megawatts by 2011.
Besides this, their help in the energy sector also includes providing capacity building assistance to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and a grant by the U.S. Government Agency, USTDA, of $162.000 to assist IHS Nigeria, a local company that manufactures towers for cellular, microwave, and radio uses to improve its efforts to evaluate energy alternatives, for renewable energy solutions, and in the ICT sector.
Robins said this through an agreement he signed last week and through the Nigerian Energy and Climate Change project, a U.S. Government effort to help Nigeria generate clean power, generate power from flared gas, and assist independent wind and solar firms to develop bankable investments.
He further affirmed that they are working with the Central Bank of Nigeriaâ€™s (CBN) Information Technology department to help on cyber_security solutions and security best practices in the banking sector and Nigeria being the largest agribusiness market in Sub_Saharan Africa for the United States. They are working to deepen U.S. Nigeria agribusiness tie through trade and development programs. Each year, hundreds of Nigerian agribusinesses participate in industry_specific events in the United States to source products, services, and technical know_how for their operations.
According to him, â€œWe support and sponsor various agricultural technical exchanges between U.S. and Nigerian institutions through programs including USDAâ€™s fellowship and faculty exchange programs. These offer short_term agricultural training opportunities for mid_level managers from the government and NGOs.
As part of the U.S. $25 million Global Food Security Program for Nigeria, we are working with federal, state, and private sector institutions to build capacity in agricultural productivity, markets, linkages, and building agricultural yields in cassava, rice, and cow peas. Nigeriaâ€™s agricultural future is vital to this countryâ€™s well_being, and I am pleased that I have had an opportunity to meet with Nigerian farmers all over Nigeria to see how our technical assistance has helped farmers to produce protein enriched cassava and cow pea flour, and better rice.
Recently in Ogun State, I visited an innovative public_private partnership between Ekha Agro and the U.S. Government through USAID which is helping over 1,000 Nigerian cassava farmers produce glucose from cassava, the first agro_business of its kind in Nigeria and the first in all of West Africa. Small scale farmers will double their productivity and increase their net incomes by over 150 percent thanks to better yields and higher prices. In Benueâ€™s Olam farm, we have also helped a 200_member farmersâ€™ cooperative improve rice yields and increase exports.
In Ondo State, an agro_business is making cassava flakes for export. All of these projects are using, and are advancing with U.S._funded technical assistance and capacity building. I know this audience is primarily filled with business persons active in the dynamic commercial sector of Lagos. But it doesnâ€™t mean that your voices should not be heard at this crucial political time for Nigeria. You know as well as I do that investment and economic growth donâ€™t like uncertainty, so what is going on now politically in either the short term or the long term does affect your interests so your voices need to be heard. That being said, the U.S. Government wants to assure you that we support the democratic efforts to find a way out of these uncharted waters.
We are still your friend and I speak today as a friend of the nation.Â So I want to tell you some of the things we are still doing to be helpful and supportive during this critical time, in the areas of energy, banking. ICT and agriculture. I know these are uncertain political times for Nigeria, as your Acting President needs your support in ensuring Nigeriaâ€™s democracy not only continues to mature but also so that the country remains stable. The U.S. Government cares deeply about Nigeria, Not only how it is doing as a nation, but where it is going, and how it is planning to get there.
We wish you success as you continue to chart a way forward during these uncertain political times as you decide as a nation how to address the issues at hand, from the dignity for an ailing President to reports that a small group is being less than transparent about his status. Your Acting President needs the support of the entire nation at this time to ensure that the way forward for Nigeria is not only democratic and maintains unity of purpose, but also inspires the right actions on election reform and addressing the fundamental areas of development particularly in the Niger Delta, and including encouraging more transparency in the Petroleum Industry and Local Content Bills for the energy sector.â€ He said.