By CHRIS OCHAYI
ABUJA: South African President, Jacob Zuma has expressed the willingness of his country to partner with Nigeria to create business opportunities and development of infrastructure, especially in the energy sector.
The South African Deputy Minister for Trade and Investment, Ms. Elizabeth Thabeth, who said this while leading the South African trade and investment delegation to the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo in Abuja, said President Jacob Zuma’s priority, is to develop infrastructure through partnership with other African countries.
She said energy as an enabler for economic growth is the focus of the group, adding that Nigeria as a strategic partner of South Africa will help fast track the realization of Pan-African dream of its Government.
Addressing the delegation which was accompanied on the visit by South African’s High Commissioner to Nigeria Lulu Louis Mnguni, the Minister of Power, Nebo assured the delegation that Nigeria’s fledging power sector still offers a lot of business opportunities to South-Africa.
He said this will be a welcome development to Nigeria, as such strategic partnership is in consonance with African Brotherhood and solidarity. Recalling the days preceding the emergence of majority rule in South-Africa, Nebo said Nigeria was there to ensure political freedom for South-Africans.
“We are desirous of doing business with South-Africa. The telecommunication giant MTN, Shoprite and other South African companies are doing well here, we want more of them in the power sector too”
According to the Minister, “Nigeria is eager to learn from South Africa as it has a robust per capital power supply status with 43 million people and 40,000MW. South Africa is far ahead of Nigeria with over 160 million people and power generation of less than 5,000MW. The implication of this is that Nigeria will need to generate 40 times more power to meet up the South Africans.”
Nebo assured the South Africans that there are more opportunities in power generation despite their invisibility in the on-going privatisation, adding that transmission, metering and even manufacturing of parts like circuit breakers, cables, power lines and switches, require investment from South Africa.
Another area of interest is renewable energy – solar, biomass and wind, “our doors are open. We have vast areas of communities that are far from the national grid,” he said.
He also said that with the privatisation of the sector, the new owners will require partnership. “We also want to explore our abundant coal reserves, South Africa can avail us with the knowledge of using clean coal technology. We need to reiterate that we are prepared to sign MoU with South-Africa, we want to tap from your experience to energize our economy,” he said.
Also at the event, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Igali said Nigeria wants to see more MTN and Shoprite companies in the Power sector, just as he promised to bring-on board new owners of Nigeria’s power assets, so that they can explore partnerships that would be mutually beneficial.