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Northern States Boosting Power with Five Solar Plants



300MW Solar energy
  • Northern States Boosting Power with Five Solar Plants

Governors from the northern states in Nigeria want to tap into the abundant solar radiation-of the region to industrialise and improve the livelihood of their residents. They signed a fresh pact to generate 500 megawatts (MW) of solar energy with globally acclaimed power firm, General Electric (GE). Chineme Okafor writes

Perhaps coming to the understanding that Nigeria’s dependence on fossil fuel power generation was no longer reliable and that the world was also fast pivoting to renewable and clean energy generation modes, governors in Nigeria’s northern states recently hopped on to the moving renewable energy wagon to find solutions to the chronic electricity shortage that has come to define the region and indeed Nigeria.

According to a media statement, the governors under the Northern States Governors’ Forum, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the General Electric International for the construction of five solar plants in some parts of the region.

It’s coming just days after Nigeria formally ratified its commitment to the climate change terms the world drew up and agreed to follow during the Conference of Parties (COP -22) in Marrakech, Morocco. The five solar plants are expected to generate 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity that could help industries and small businesses in the region regain their hitherto lost productivity.

Also, the development follows the recent bold steps of the Federal Government to diversify Nigeria’s energy mix, by having 14 solar farms built majorly in states in the north by solar power promoters who signed power purchase agreements (PPA) with the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) to build and generate 1125MW of solar power.

The Solar MoU

According to the statement signed by Isa Gusau, the spokesperson of the Borno Governor, Mr. Kashim Shettima, who is also the chairman of the forum, each of the plants is expected to generate 100MW of the 500MW planned electricity output.

The electricity from the solar farms, Gusau said would be used to stimulate economic activities and social services in the states, with special attention given to agricultural food processing, small scale businesses and stable electricity supply to schools and hospitals in the region.

He quoted Shettima to have said at the MoU signing ceremony with GE that, “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.”

Shettima further noted: “With power, we can create jobs, stimulate our economies and make life better for our people. The General Electric has over 120-year 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 added at the ceremony which reportedly held in Abuja.

Change of Approach

Just like turning a new leaf, Shettima explained in the statement that the challenges of poverty, unemployment, and poor access to education, poor healthcare amongst other underdevelopment indications were threatening the north, hence the decision of the governors to take a new approach to curb such underdevelopment.

Coming at time when Nigeria may likely go through another round of power supply failures as generation from its largest power plant, Egbin station reportedly crashed to a record low of 172MW on Tuesday, the governors may have perhaps initiated a bold move that could create a positive ripple effect on the business of power generation and supplies in the country.

According to industry data, eight of the nation’s 26 power plants were idle on Tuesday while the nation recorded a total system collapse on Thursday, November 24, the second time it would happen this month and for as many times as possible this year.

Shettima had stated that the governors would no longer complain about the current electricity challenge of the country, but concentrate on finding solutions to the peculiar challenges of the region.

He said power could provide a vehicle for the North to reposition itself for a better future, adding that the Northern Nigeria Global Economic Re-integration Programme, a newly created platform by the forum would coordinate the 500MW solar project, which is also a pilot phase.

The programme would serve as the vehicle for the economic recovery of Northern states through international relations on infrastructure, manufacturing, as well as stimulation of the agricultural value chain and trade.

It would equally seek to make the region a global player in agricultural export in line with the vision of its late Premier, Ahmadu Bello.

Tanimu Kurfi, the former Chief Economic Adviser to late President Umaru Yar’Adua has reportedly been engaged as the Chief Executive Officer of the Programme and would, with his reported wide contact with leading development companies and financial institutions across the world, help nurture and stabilise the plan.

Similarly, the statement noted that both the Senior Executive, Western Europe and Africa for GE, Mr. Pineda, and its President/Chief Executive Officer for Nigeria, Dr. Lazarus Angbazo, in affirming the commitment of the company to the MoU, explained that they would work to realise the project.

Although no details as regard the projects’ costs and execution period was provided by the forum, it was not clear if this was part of GE’s existing commitment to help Nigeria grow her power infrastructure over the next 10 years.

GE in 2009 signed a Country-to-Company (C2C) agreement with the Federal Government to support the financing, design and building of infrastructure and capacity across key sectors of the economy, including rail, power and healthcare.

The agreement was however renewed for another five years, with the pledge to help Nigeria through its partnership with the Ministry of Power, develop up to 10,000MW of power over the next 10 years.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.


COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations



African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations



China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns



President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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