African trade agreement will boost electricity generation, supply, say GENCOs

President Muhammadu Buhari signing the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), on behalf of Nigeria
President Muhammadu Buhari signing the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), on behalf of Nigeria

The electricity generation companies, GENCOs, say they are optimistic the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement signed last Sunday in Niamey, Niger Republic. by all heads of government of the African Union will boost power generation and supply in the continent.

The companies, under the aegis of the Association of the Power Generation Companies (APGC), said the due diligence conducted prior to the agreement and the corresponding cohesion with several interests groups have assured the operators of a conducive operational environment.

The Executive Secretary of the APGC, Joy Ogaji, said in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja that GENCOs are confident the AfCFTA agreement will boost intra-Africa trade among African countries from the current 16 per cent to about 60 per cent.

Benefits of agreement

Apart from increased intra-African trade, Mrs Ogaji said there are other potential benefits of the agreements to the Nigerian economy in particular and Nigerians in general.

“Under the agreement, there will be no quota system; trade will be conducted according to trading capacity; exports of goods and services will be cheaper, leading to more competitive pricing,” she said.

Besides, she said Nigerians will now enjoy easier entry (and exit) from other markets, with the cumulative result of all these benefits being a significant boost in trade, and the economy.

As the biggest economy in Africa, with gross domestic products (GDP) of about $400 billion, the APGC boss said the new agreement clearly presents Nigeria the potential opportunity to play a more active role in both the regional and global economy.

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She said the actualisation of this potential is largely predicated on the degree to which the country can achieve industrial development as an enabler for long-term sustainable growth and poverty reduction.

“The signing of the agreement is not only a welcome development, but also a stirring indication that the Buhari administration is ready for business,” Mrs Ogaji said.

According to her, the business includes the commitment by the government to address the challenges capable of hampering GENCOs from discharging their mandates.

Given the critical role adequate power supply plays in the development of the social sector, education, health, transportation and industrialisation in a nation, she said government has a responsibility to pay particular attention.

“The critical role of power as a veritable physical infrastructural tool for economic growth, industrialisation, and development cannot be over-emphasized.

“The availability of adequate power supply is directly proportional to the associated extensive technology-based development in the production and manufacturing sector.

“Steady and regular power supply is needed for different type of industries, where goods, appliances, tools, instruments, machines, modern communication equipment and gadgets, vehicles, aircrafts, ships are manufactured,” she said.

According to the APGC executive secretary, the benefits of the AfCFTA agreement to Nigeria may not be fully realised until the problems of the power sector are fully addressed.

The DISCOs urged the government to demonstrate a renewed zeal and focus on solving the power sector problems to reposition Nigeria amongst the leading industrializing countries capable of satisfying the ever-increasing demands for power in many industries and factories in the country.

“Resolving the power supply issue will make consumer goods, machineries, equipment, and tools flood the African/global consumer markets. It will also bring about increased employment and empowerment of the youth.

“Nigeria’s potential to become one of the world’s largest economies will remain just an aspiration without the electricity required to pursue aggressive industrialisation, including the revitalisation of moribund local industries,” Mrs Ogaji said.

Resolving the problems

To resolve the problems in the power sector, she stressed the need for an apolitical environment through the design and implementation of viable policies, strong and experienced leadership/coordination of the sector.

Also, she called for enforceable regulations underpinned by best industry practices focused on solving the hurdles to effective and efficient generation, transmission and distribution of power.

Policy coherence is also needed to provide stable and affordable power to consumers. To do this, effective collaboration and coordination across interrelated ministries, departments and agencies is critical.

To optimise the current generation capacity, she said there is a need for massive investment in transmission and distribution networks in the country.

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