By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA – THE European Union has blamed the Nigerian system for the countryâ€™s inability to generate enough energy to meet local demand as well as help propel industrial and economic growth and development.
This was the position of the body as contained in a pre-feasibility study for the EU-Nigeria Dialogue on Energy, released on Thursday, during a workshop in Abuja , by the Delegation of European Communities to Nigeria .
According to the document, the EU says it believes that â€œthe problem facing the energy sector in Nigeria are systemic, meaning that solutions have to cover the whole system and not isolated parts of it. Systemic failure needs systemic solutions.â€
It further noted that, â€œIn terms of energy issues, Nigeria could be said to be in a series of downward spirals. There are a number of loops with each activity negatively impacting on the next.
â€œAreas of concern include oil refining, fuel subsidies, bunkering; gas flaring, the implementation of the Gas Master Plan; electricity 6000MW, widespread use of generators; little coal mining, partial privatisation, large numbers of redundancies; uncompleted reforms and employee concerns and poor quality of power sector data.â€
The EU noted other challenges in the industry to include corruption, weak nuclear aspirations, renewable energy, environmental challenges, poor transmission and distribution infrastructure, erratic pricing policy for electricity and petrol, lack of maintenance and open door policy, as well as tensions between private and public participants and state and federal governments.
The body recommended key areas that would revamp the sector including support to domestic gas development, integrated package of local content and capacity building, development of clusters, and a Niger Delta Development Trust Fund or Bank ,as with the successful example of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.â€
Delivering a paper at the workshop, the representative of the European Commission Delegation to Nigeria and EU Charge deâ€™Affairs, Mr. Augustine Oyome, explained that the purpose of the workshop was to discuss how best ECâ€™s support could add value to energy development in Nigeria , in the light of the report of a study, which was funded by the European Commission.
He said, â€œEnergy is one area that is in the mutual interest of both Nigeria and the European Union, as clearly set forth in the EU-Nigeria way forward. It is the subject of the on-going political dialogue between the two sides.
â€œThis is appropriate given the governmentâ€™s current plan to boost electricity generation to 6000MW by the end of the year and to 11,000MW by 2010.â€
According to Oyome, stable and reliable energy supply is â€œabsolutely necessary if Nigeria is to have a sustainable economic growth in the coming years, and the EU, as a development partner, wants to play a role in that.â€
He noted in September last year, the former EU Commissioner for Development, Louis Michel, and the EU Commissioner for Energy, Adris Pielbalgs, paid a visit to the country and had discussions with government officials.
â€œThe visit was an expression of ECâ€™s commitment to assist Nigeria in this area. That visit gave a boost to the political dialogue process and provided a platform for the inclusion of energy in the EC-Nigeria Country Strategy Paper for the 10th EDF,â€ he added.
Oyome, however, cautioned that strategies on energy development should not only revolve around energy and gas. â€œWe must focus more and more on new energy sources and green technologies. We have the opportunity to follow a new path,â€ he said.
These new energy sources, he said, could contribute to a Nigerian economy that is based on energy efficiency as well as contribute to lifting millions out of poverty.
â€œThink of the boost the realization of the governmentâ€™s plan on power generation and distribution could have on private sector, particularly on small and medium enterprises, on job creation, poverty reduction and achievement of the MDGS,â€ he said.