Daily Trust (Abuja)

25 April 2008

Nigeria: Electricity - Country to Try Coal

Nigeria is reverting to the use of coal as an alternative power generation strategy, a top government official has said.

This is coming eleven months after President Umaru Musa Yaradua promised to declare emergency on the power sector. The president had said the power sector is one of the seven-point agenda of his administration.

The National Assembly, probing the sector has also unearthed massive corrupt practices.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja, Mines and Steel Minister Sarafa Tunji Ishola told Chinese investors to focus on Nigerian coal so as to help generate more power.

Addressing the delegation of Chinese Development Bank in his office, the Minister said Chinese industries have been showing tremendous interest in the sector as evidenced by a concession with Western Metal, a Chinese company that is utilizing the Nigerian coal for power.

He said, "I will want whatever resources that your Bank will want to offer, should be giving priority to coal first because that is the number one priority of government to address our power challenges."

The Minister also solicited for the assistance of the Chinese Bank in the areas of capacity building, provision of technical expertise, financing, exchange programmes and other collaboration that will develop the mining sector.

He told the delegation that their visit was timely as the Ministry is about laying the foundation for development of solid mineral sector in the country.

He said, "By next week, we will be commissioning our new office complex, publicly present the Nigerian Mineral and Mining act 2007 which is the law guiding this sector and launch the National policy on minerals and Metals because mining in Nigeria will henceforth be carried along international best practices."

Speaking on behalf of the delegation, the senior Commissioner of the Chinese development Bank, Mrs. Li Hong said the purpose of their visit was to create an opportunity of cooperation between the two countries.

She said the main goal of the Bank is assist Chinese companies to cooperate with various companies in different African Countries.

Mrs. Hong acknowledged the good relationship between the Chinese and Nigerian government and called for a wider cooperation between the government and the Chinese companies.

She said, "In line with that, we solicit for more support from the Honorable Minister and other relevant government organizations for a lasting and peaceful cooperation."

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