The hope for improved power supply in Nigeria is getting brighter with plans by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote’s company to generate about 12,000 megawatts of electricity for Africa’s most populous country by 2018.
There has been an increased despondence in the country due epileptic power supply to industries and other electricity users, including private individuals who spent millions of naira on independent generation.
Many firms are running on alternative power supply, raising cost of business, while some have closed shop because they could not sustain the additional cost spent on power generation.
“Our gas project would have our gas pipelines on the seabed. The output should be able to provide about 12,000MW of power. We see a lot of transformation when we are done with most of our projects by 2018,” Dangote told a conference in Lagos on Monday.
He also said that his business estate would start selling foreign exchange to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by 2020.
“We are looking at a situation that by 2020, we will be the one selling FX to the CBN. Our projects are mainly import substitution. We are working to be self-sufficient to grow about a million tonnes of rice over the next five years.
“We have 15 countries in the ECOWAS community that are duty-free. The export market is big and profitable if you have the capacity. Players in the manufacturing (sector) should be encouraged to export if they have the capacity. We must also meet local consumption.”
Dangote said the fall in crude oil price was not a curse and that the nation must use the opportunity to explore the potential in other sectors of the economy.
He said, “This is the right moment to pursue the diversification of the economy, which we have been talking about. I know that once oil gets back to $80 per barrel, we will go back to the same misbehaviour.
“But I think this is the right time for that. Government must come up with the right policy, because if we don’t do it now, we may not do it. But low prices do not mean doom. In 1998-1999, the price of oil was $9. What we need to do is just to block the leakages and pursue diversification.”
According to Dangote, the monthly revenue inflow from oil, which used to be $3.2bn, is now around $1bn, and this has caused a number of challenges for businesses in the country.
“There are some areas where we are facing serious challenges and there are some where we are not. It depends on your business model. If your business model is to import 100 per cent, definitely, you will be facing challenges, because the inflow of foreign exchange is not where it used to be a year and a half ago,” he added.
The Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, on his part, said a number of manufacturers were facing hard times due to their inability to access forex to buy raw materials.
According to him, there was a need to explore import substitution, while efforts are being made to boost forex supply in the country.
Wigwe said, “We have a lot of manufacturers who have to rely on forex for their raw materials but who are going through tough times. However, are there opportunities? I believe there are. I think it is time for us to move towards import-substitution. But I think we need to do things to support the supply side of forex and liberalise the market.