Bart Nnaji, former minister of power, says lack of bankable coal report has been identified as one of the major problems scaring away investors from the coal industry in Nigeria.
This is as Nigerian manufacturers led by Chike Obidigbo have pleaded for patronage of locally made goods to save the local economy.
The former minister, who is also the chief executive of Geometric Nigeria Ltd, revealed this at the Enugu/Ebonyi/Anambra Manufacturers Association’s meeting at Awka.
He said, with vehemence, that there is no single bankable coal study in Nigeria, pointing out that no private sector would like to invest without knowing the quantity and quality of the coal deposit.
“We have initiated study for coal so if it is done eventually, it will give us bankable coal study with which you can produce coal”, Nnaji said.
He said that the problem of the Oji-River power plant was that besides being dilapidated that the brand of coal used in powering it was no longer in production. This, he said, was because there was no guiding study to attempt to produce it.
He also noted that the plant has the capacity to produce only 35 megawatts which means it can not even serve the entire Awka well because of modern plants and equipment now in operation, different from what was in use 50 years ago when it served the Eastern region.
The chief executive of Geometric said that for the business of manufacturing in Nigeria to become global there must be power-supply consistency.
He advised that government should pay attention to all the indices that would promote the establishment of power plants in various parts of the country particularly in the South East where there are many manufacturing outfits to ensure that certain export products are made in Nigeria.
Nnaji, who spoke on the theme, ‘Enhancing industrial growth for youth development and empowerment through improved funding and energy supply’, said that although power projects were capital-intensive, the private sector should be encouraged to go into generation and distribution of power to ensure reliability of the supply.
The CEO also explained that Aba power project has consumed $460 million and that it will be officially commissioned on May 15, 2013 to give reliable power supply to the industries and homes in the area.
According to him, the delay in the completion of the project was as a result of the 2008 world economic meltdown under which international banks withdrew over $11 billion from Nigerian banks and no bank was ready again to go into such money-demanding project.
“There was a financial meltdown so the amount of money remaining that will come from bank is about $100 million and in one month international banks withdraw almost $11 billion from Nigerian banks. So, people who have commitments got choked. One bank told me your project is good but even if you are doing it with Jesus Christ we are not giving you”.
Nnaji said that the project was pure private sector power project and expressed the intention of the company supplying power to Nnewi to sustain the manufacturing business in that area.
Responding to questions on the pricing of the product when taken over by the private sector, the former minister said that it is a regulated industry and that the pricing will not be above the national pricing.
REGIS ANUKWUOJI, Enugu