President Muhammadu Buhari, Wednesday, disclosed that Nigeria would join other African oil and gas producing countries in accessing the $1 billion African Energy Investment Corporation, AEICORP, fund, promoted by the African Petroleum Producers Organisation, APPO, to increase its crude oil reserves and finance the exploration of crude oil and gas.
This was even as Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, a Nigerian and former spokesperson of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, emerged the incoming Secretary-General of APPO.
Speaking in Abuja, at the Extraordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of APPO, Buhari noted that investments in the petroleum industry was fast drying up, making it difficult to access funds for crude oil and gas exploration.
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, maintained that without fresh funds, Nigeria and the rest of Africa would be unable to tap into and access the newly discovered crude oil and gas reserves being discovered across the continent.
He said, "Closely related to the APPO reform is the reform and recapitalization of the development arm of APPO, namely the APPO Fund for International Development, recently renamed the African Energy Investment Corporation, AEICORP, which also struggled to achieve its mandate without much success.
"The reform of APPO was therefore extended to AEICORP. Major recommendations were made which the APPO Council of Ministers approved in their last meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
"Among the changes introduced are the opening up of equity ownership to private and financial institutions, recapitalization of equity to $1 billion and the establishment of a new Board of Directors with membership from both the public and private sectors. In other words, the AEICORP shall not be solely owned by sovereign countries of APPO anymore. It is now to be owned by both sovereigns and private investors.
"The importance of recapitalizing AEICORP cannot be over-emphasized for us in Africa. As you are aware, due to the global paradigm shift away from oil as energy source, investment funds are fast drying up for the oil industry.
" This is happening at a time Africa is finding more and more oil and gas. Without the required funds, these reserves will remain in the ground, untapped and un-accessed, while our people go without energy.
"I need not remind you that Africa has over 600 million out of the 850 million people in the world who do not have access to modern energy. We need to exploit what we have to take our people out of energy poverty, and by extension economic poverty."
He called on member countries of APPO to make equity subscription to AEICORP in order to ensure consequential investment by Sovereign Wealth Funds, national oil companies or any other designated organizations of existing members and non-members of APPO, African/international private banks, financial institutions, and African/international private investors.
In his own presentation, Timipre Sylva, who is also the President of APPO, disclosed that Nigeria has concluded the assignment given it earlier in the year, on the reform of APPO, noting that the country was set to submit its final report to the Council of Ministers for consideration and approval.
He listed some of the key decisions to include the choice of the host country for APPO headquarters, the selection of a new Secretary-General and some key officers of the APPO secretariat and the recapitalisation of AEICORP.
He called on member countries to consider issues to be deliberated upon objectively, taking the interests of APPO above personal or country consideration.