The Federal Government and the United States have perfected new strategies to boost their bilateral relations even as the United States Trade Development Agency USTDA signed a $480million power agreement with three indigenous power companies.
Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Olusegun Aganga on Thursday held a closed doors discussions in Lagos with the United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to seek new avenues of increasing American investors’ interest in the Nigerian economy.
After the meeting which had in attendance 22 US companies from the power sector, Aganga said that there was a time when oil exports where about $34billion, today it has come down for the reasons that America is trying to be fuel sufficient and of course, the need for Nigeria to seek alternative revenue earnings.
“The world is changing. Today America wants to be energy sufficient they found shale; Nigeria today now wants to actually stop being a nation that exports raw materials to a nation that actually adds values to its commodities. So we are moving from a country that relied entirely on selling crude oil to a country that wants to add value to our crude oil and gas,” Aganga said.
He noted that this was the first time such a visit is taking place in almost 25 years, signalling that the President Obama administration views Nigeria very differently and wants to establish a new stronger and more strategic partnership that will encourage more investors to come to the country.
“Today we have had a very interesting meeting with the US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and she disclosed that more than 100 businessmen indicated their interest to come to Nigeria but the mission could only accommodate 22 of them for now,” he said.
Aganga stated that Nigeria wants to do top quality trade with America not based on raw materials exports only and that was the challenge for him and the commerce secretary to work on and come up with some ideas.
He said the new strategy will be to focus on trade and investment as a bloc and expressed his delight that America and American businessmen were already very keen to look into it.
The minister gave further details of the strategies which both countries have agreed and adopted to bring more
American investment into Nigeria to include the U.S will organise and host Nigerian businesses to come to the United states to meet with business people on two or three future occasions, starting from August when President
Obama plans to meet with African leaders on the power Africa project.
Aganga also said that there will be a meeting of 100 African CEOs meeting with another 100 American CEOs and that his ministry will be nominating people from Nigeria,” he said.
He said both countries have also agreed to work together on a sectoral basis to organise investment summits in the United States where Nigerians will meet with American businessmen to talk through some of the issues surrounding various areas of investment in the country.
After the meeting USTDA led by its director Leocadia Zak signed a grant agreement with three Nigerian power companies: Honeywell Group, Royal power and the Benin electricity distribution company.
Speaking after the signing of the agreement, USTDA Director, said that Nigeria needed to have both long term vision and quick action to meet its growing energy needs, which requires that the US and Nigeria deepen their bilateral partnership.
“More importantly, I have seen that you are committed to progress and the people I have met on this visit have demonstrated that Nigeria has a deep reserve of talented entrepreneurial people both in the public and private sector,” she said.
“It is the potential for new partnerships between Nigerian and the US companies that excites me the most. The grants we are signing today have the potential to catalyze over $480 million in investments in your energy sector. They represent the opportunities in both power generation and for greater efficiency in the transmission and distribution of electricity but the companies here cannot do this alone,” she said.
Also speaking after the ceremony, the Minster of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, expressed optimism that more agreements with regards to business partnerships will come in the future.
He said that already there was some measure of improvement in power supply in many parts of Nigeria and that it will continue to go that way.
“What it is we are hoping for is having 24/7 power supply, that will still take some time but you will notice that in the past three weeks there has been immeasurable improvement in power supply for the whole country apart from issues of rainfall knocking down poles, generally more power is being generated and distributed in Nigeria today than has happened before and that will continue to grow,” he said.