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General Electric to invest $1 billion in Nigeria

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

General Electric says it plans to invest $1 billion in Nigeria; the investment will reportedly triple the country's electrical output over the next decade. The news comes on the eve as Nigeria seeks to reform its dilapidated and corrupt power sector.
 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nigeria is an African nation that runs chiefly on generators. Many Nigerians don't have access to electricity, and those that do have it only sporadically. President Goodluck Jonathan declared on CNN that by the end of the year, the country's daily electrical problems will be more or less solved. 
 
"It's possible the sound of his generator is far away from his house and office, so he doesn't know when the switch is made between generators and public power supply, but there is very poor power supply to the generality of homes in Nigeria," Clement Nwankwo, the executive director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Center in Abuja says. He says that President Jonathan doesn't realize how bad Nigeria's electrical system is.
 
Coupled with a power sector is notoriously corrupt, every Nigerian leader claims to be able to stop the blackouts in a single year, and nothing changes, Nwanko says.
 
Nigeria's Minister of Trade and Investment Olusegun Aganga said this time will be different. He claims that General Electric's investment includes partnering with private Nigerian companies and taking over one of Nigeria's major power plants, building turbines, a new factory and exploring Nigeria's abundant natural oil and gas supplies.
 
"This is the beginning of much more to come. That is a clear message to the country, a clear message to Nigerians and a clear message to the international investor community. It's not just about power. It's more than that. It's about manufacturing," Aganga says.

General Electric claims that $250 million will be invested immediately, with the rest of the money spent on upkeep, training and salaries. GE Chairman Jeff Immelt said in a speech that the projects will create more than 2,000 jobs in Nigeria, nearly all of them going to Nigerians.
 
"The time is now. The place is Nigeria. The how is the local team. Now the focus on everything is the execution," Immelt said.

However -- in the Nigerian development world, the "execution" of projects is usually where things can get stalled by corruption or violence. In the Niger Delta, where the oil is and where GE's new plant will be, oil companies say they lose as much as a billion dollars in revenue a month to oil theft and sabotage.

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