Uche Usim and Abimbola Adeluyi, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, disclosed that Nigeria was working hard to get a slice of the $1 billion African Energy Investment Corporation (AEICORP) Fund, facilitated by the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO) in a strategic effort to boost crude oil reserves and finance the exploration of crude oil and gas.
This was as Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, a Nigerian and former spokesperson of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, emerged the incoming Secretary-General of APPO.
President Buhari who made the disclosure in Abuja, at the Extraordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of APPO, explained that since investments in the petroleum industry was fast drying up as alternative energy sources emerge, the development has robbed energy producing nations access to huge funds required for commercial crude oil and gas exploration.
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, maintained that without fresh funds, Nigeria and the rest of Africa would be missing out on the huge gains inherent in the newly discovered crude oil and gas reserves 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.”
President Buhari urged APPO member nations to collaboratively 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 address, Sylva, who doubles as the Chairman of APPO, disclosed that Nigeria has concluded the assignment given her earlier in the year, which centres on the reform of APPO.
He added 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 urged member countries to dispassionately consider issues to be deliberated upon by placing APPO interest far above any other issue.