Leadership Abuja Francis Okoye
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

The Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) and United States firm, General Electric International, yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of five solar plants that will generate 500 megawatts of electricity in parts of Northern Nigeria.

Borno State governor and NSGF chairman, Kashim Shettima, signed the agreement on behalf of the governors while General Electric’s senior executive, Western Europe and Africa, Mr Armand Pineda, and the president/Chief executive officer, General Electric, Nigeria, Dr Lazarus Angbazo, signed on behalf of their company, in a brief ceremony held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.

Based on the MoU, General Electric, which has 120 years’ experience in power generation, is to build five solar power plants to be located in Borno, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger and Taraba states. Each of the plants is expected to generate 100 megawatts of electricity – totalling 500 megawatts across the five states.

Source: Governor Borno’s Facebook page.

The electricity project is meant to stimulate economic activities and social services in the affected states, through boosting of

agricultural food processing, small scale businesses and supplying electricity to schools and hospitals.

The project, which is a pilot phase, is being coordinated by the Northern Nigeria Global Economic Re-integration Programme, newly created by the northern governors to serve as vehicle for the economic recovery of northern states through international relations on infrastructure, manufacturing, stimulating agricultural value-chain and trade and making the region a global payer in agricultural export in line with the vision of late premier of the region.

The northern governors engaged the services of Malam Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi as the chief executive officer of the programme.

Kurfi, a former chief economic adviser to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, has wide contacts with leading development companies and financial institutions across the world.

Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, Governor Shettima explained that the project was a creation of the 19 northern states governors as a way of finding solutions to the problems bedevilling the region.

« The 19 governors of the north jointly created this approach. We want to go beyond lamentation to provide solutions and we all know that power is key to industrial development. With power, we can create jobs, stimulate our economies and make life better for our people.

« The General Electric has over 120 years of experience in energy solutions and they have been operating in Nigeria for over 50 years. We cannot have a better partner than GE. We shall do our part as governors; this I will assure you. We are deeply committed to this agreement, » he said.

The governor noted the challenges posed by poverty, unemployment, poor access to education, poor healthcare amongst other indices of underdevelopment threatening the north, and concluded that the power can provide a vehicle for the north to reposition itself for a better future.

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In his remarks, Kurfi, said he took up the challenge put forward by the northern governors as a result of the strong passion and commitment to the aggressive development of the north as so far shown by the northern governors since Governor Shettima became the forum’s chairman in 2015.

Reaffirming its commitment to the MOU, General Electric’s senior executive, Western Europe and Africa, Mr Armand Pineda, and the president/CEO, General Electric, Nigeria, Dr Lazarus Angbazo, both pledged that they would work round the clock to deliver on the project for the benefit of citizens of the five states.

LEADERSHIP recalls that in October this year, General Electric, announced plans to invest about $150m (N45.8bn) in Nigeria by 2017.

« There are development projects where we are investing, » the Chief Executive Officer, General Electric in Africa, Jay Ireland, told the Financial Times Africa Summit in London. The GE said it would also invest in oil and gas industry projects.

Ireland said the investment in Nigeria was part of a plan to spend $2bn in Africa in coming years.

The GE, which has operated in Africa for over 100 years, had earlier in September, restated its commitment to invest $2bn in facility development, skills training, and sustainability initiatives across the continent by 2018.