Nigeria, US trade hits $35bn - PUNCH
BY Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
Nigeria and the United States have been very good partners with about $35bn worth of trade between the two countries, the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, has said.
Baru disclosed this during a meeting with the US Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, and some African petroleum ministers, on the sidelines of the 19th CERAWeek Conference taking place in Houston, United States.
This came as the US energy secretary told his guests that the US would help Africa to become energy-independent.
Speaking at the meeting, Baru called for more integration among countries within the West African sub-region towards providing lasting solution to the region’s numerous energy challenges.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, said the corporation’s boss explained that energy integration across the sub-region was necessary as it would reduce unemployment and restiveness, as well as improve the economies of the affected countries.
Baru said, “Nigeria as a regional leader has already encouraged regional integration by first putting up the West African Gas Pipeline to ensure gas is available to West Africa. We are also doing the Trans- Sahara Gas Pipeline, even as we are intent on extending the WAGP to Morocco.”
He said the intent was to come up with a West African Power Pool that would put up power plants and other gas-based industries along those areas within the respective countries.
The GMD said Nigeria’s crude oil production had seen tremendous improvement in recent years due to the Federal Government’s efforts in ensuring security in the Niger Delta region.
In his remarks, Perry expressed his country’s commitment towards helping Africa achieve energy independence for the benefit of Africans.
He said, “On our part, we will support progress by engaging economically as well as championing open markets in societies. We endorse the modernisation of critical oil and gas infrastructure which leads to better security and diversification of energy supplies and exports.”
Perry described innovation as the surest path to energy security, adding that once countries innovated, they were greeted with greater economic growth, opportunities and national security.
“We support efforts to improve the regional interconnectivity. We also see energy access as critical to increasing prosperity and combating the cycle of poverty,” he said.
The US energy secretary stated that as the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world, the US was more than well positioned to not only share its resources, but also its technology and know-how.
Perry said his country would work towards transforming Africa’s domestic energy systems so that it would provide power, create jobs, foster development, open up new opportunities and improve almost every facet of human existence on the continent.
“The US is very eager to share its energy resources and expertise with the African continent. As we go forward, we want to be a desired partner in ensuring that the global energy market is supplied with the diversity of energy sources,” he stated.
Other ministers and high level energy executives from African countries such as Ghana, Mali, South Sudan, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda and Sierra Leone participated in the meeting, NNPC stated.