Reuters: Iran on Thursday offered to share its nuclear technology with fellow OPEC member Nigeria to help revive its dilapidated power sector, considered the biggest hurdle to economic growth in Africa's most populous country.
By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA (Reuters) – Iran on Thursday offered to share its nuclear technology with fellow OPEC member Nigeria to help revive its dilapidated power sector, considered the biggest hurdle to economic growth in Africa's most populous country.
Nigeria welcomed the international help, but was quick to distance itself from the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear programme. Tehran says it is developing nuclear technology only to generate energy but some Western powers are sceptical.
"Nigeria is never entering into any agreement with Iran for any matter that has to do with weapons, but (will agree) to power, which is an urgent need of the Nigerian government," said Tijjani Kaura, Nigeria's minister of state for foreign affairs.
Delegates from the two countries promised to cooperate on nuclear energy, but provided few details on the agreement reached after a four-day meeting in Nigeria's capital Abuja.
"We not only consider it (nuclear energy) an Iranian inalienable right, but also Nigeria's right to use this clean source of energy," said Mohammadali Zeyghami, deputy head of trade relations in Iran's Ministry of Commerce.
"Nobody can limit the use of this knowledge anywhere in the world."
Nigeria's power problem has become so severe that much of the country goes without mains electricity for weeks, plunging neighbourhoods without private generators into darkness every night and heightening frustration among its 140 million people.
This is despite Nigeria having the seventh-largest gas reserves in the world, estimated at about 180 trillion cubic feet.
Since coming to power in May 2007, Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua has been promising to declare a national emergency on power, during which billions of dollars will be invested in the sector.
Last week, Germany signed a preliminary agreement with Nigeria to boost the West African country's power supplies by building new power stations and expanding existing dams in the next 11 years.
Nigeria's generation capacity has plunged to less than 1,000 megawatts from 3,000 MW a year ago, largely due to a lack of maintenance at power stations. South Africa, with a third of Nigeria's population, has over 10 times the capacity.