Uche Usim, Abuja
The electricity generation companies, GENCOs have described the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement signed last Sunday in Niamey, Niger Republic by all heads of government of the African Union as one that will tremendously boost electricity supply on the continent.
The companies, on the platform of Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), said that the due diligence conducted prior to forming the agreement provide sufficient conducive operational environment for businesses to thrive.
The Executive Secretary of the APGC, Joy Ogaji, said in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja the GENCOs are confident the AfCFTA agreement will boost intra-Africa trade among African countries from the current 16 percent to about 60 percent.
She said: “Apart from increased intra-African trade, 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.
She said the actualization 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 industrialization 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 government to demonstrate a renewed zeal and focus on solving the power sector problems to reposition Nigeria amongst the leading industrializing countries capable of satisfy 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.