The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has initiated a study to kick-start work on a regional power pool and industrialisation project meant to drive the rapid development of the Niger Delta region using electricity as a catalyst.
The NDDC Acting Managing Director, Prof Nelson Brambaifa, who stated this during a meeting with officials of Income Electrix and a consulting consortium from Germany and Singapore, at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, said that the Commission was determined to stimulate industrial growth in the Niger Delta region.
Prof Brambaifa, represented by the NDDC Acting Executive Director, Projects, Engr. Dr. Samuel Adjogbe, observed that activities in the Niger Delta region revolved almost exclusively around oil and gas business.
“We have looked at some indicators and it is obvious that the power requirement for industrial growth in the region is not available. So, we need to make a deliberate effort to set up projects that can boost power and attract investors to the region,” he said.
The NDDC boss explained that the objective was to create three industrial parks in each of the nine states of the Niger Delta region, adding that the essence of the project was to tap the abundant gas resources in the region for electricity.
He said: “Because of the few investors in the region, they are compelled to pay high electricity tariffs. We must begin to pay a more serious attention to power which is a major driver in the economy.”
The Acting Managing Director emphasised that power was the key enabler of economic growth, in the region, stating: “The success of our collective mandate to develop the Niger Delta depends on how much we are able to make the region the hub of socio-economic activities and tourism in Nigeria.”
Prof Brambaifa said the commission was fully focused on diversifying the region’s economy from its over-reliance on oil and gas, stressing the need to make the Niger Delta region an investment destination.
He noted that the project had the capacity to provide four million direct jobs because the industrial parks would create a chain of activities in the region.
He affirmed that the power pool project, which was a collaborative effort between the NDDC, the state governments, donor agencies, would help provide adequate power that would be subsidised for the industrial parks.
In his own remarks, the Group Chief Strategy Officer for Income Electrix, Mr. Chima Omeike, re-stated the need to create alternative sources of revenue and create development and investment opportunities in the Niger Delta region.
According to him “electricity is a catalyst that provides the enabling environment for industrial growth. The investments in the power project will aid industrialisation.”
He added: “We have looked at some indicators and it is obvious that the power requirement for industrial growth in the region is not available. So, we need to make deliberate effort to set up projects that can boost power and attract investors to the region.”
Omeike explained that the project would adopt a strategy to harness the cheap, abundant, reliable and available power in the region.
He said further: “The Power Pool Project seeks to fast track the industrialization of the region through the creation of cheap, abundant and reliable power in the Niger Delta region through a strategic public-private and regional electricity market via a regional power pool that is self-regulating, self-sustaining and can also be isolated from the rest of the National grid.
“The proposed regional electricity grid would span nine states – Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers states. The proposed capacity is estimated to be about 7,000 MW linked through a 330KV regional transmission backbone. This regional power pool will then feed industrial parks that would be developed in each of these states with reliable electricity for 24hours every day, at an expected tariff that should be significantly lower than anywhere else in Nigeria for minimum of ten years to drive quick growths.”
A representative of Frost & Sullivan Pte Ltd, the consulting consortium from Singapore, Richard Wong, observed that the Niger Delta had tremendous opportunities to become a major industrial hub in Nigeria. He said that the region had huge energy resources waiting to be fully exploited.