Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New opportunities for electricity and corruption in Nigeria

More than 30 years ago, a friend spent a year in Nigeria as a consultant to the Education ministry. He described how his family would fill the bathtub with water and their generator with gas every morning. Why? Because it was almost guaranteed that the water would cease to flow and the power would go out sometime during the day. The outages could last for days. The din of small, private generators starting up when the power went out was very distracting.

From most accounts, things haven't changed much. More hopeful sounding programs and even some loan guarantees are announced. Can privatization overcome the corruption and xenophobia of Nigeria's political culture?

U.S. and Nigeria Sign U.S $1.5 Billion Electricity Financing Deal
The US Export-Import Bank on Wednesday signed a deal with Nigeria aimed at providing $1.5 billion in financing for investments in the country's woefully inadequate electricity sector, a statement said.

The deal comes as Nigeria seeks to solve its longstanding electricity shortages by privatising power production and distribution, with outages daily occurrences in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer.

Privatisation will open up opportunities for foreign companies, though Nigeria's deeply rooted corruption has often been a stumbling block to successful investment in the country in the past.

Fred Hochberg, the chairman of the bank… [said] "We want to deploy this financing as quickly as possible to help meet President Goodluck Jonathan's goals for growing the Nigerian economy by greatly expanding the availability of power in the country"…

Nigeria intends to boost its power output ten-fold by 2020…

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