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‘Raising electricity access will drive investment’’

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Seplat Energy’s Director of External Affairs and Social Performance, Chioma Afe, has raised concerns about the adverse impact of the country’s high diesel imports on the foreign exchange reserves.

Nigeria spent $5.26bn importing electric generating sets, electric transformers, vacuum cleaners, hair clippers, and other electrical machinery and equipment in 2020 and 2021, according to data from the International Trade Centre.

Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria reveals a drop in Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves to $33.23bn at the close of the third quarter of 2023. This represents a year-on-year decrease of $5.01bn compared to the $38.25bn recorded in September 2022.

Shedding light on the issue in a note to The PUNCH, Afe said, “Increasing access to electricity is critical for driving the development of the Nigerian economy. Reliable and affordable power is an essential precondition for investment in many sectors, from technology to manufacturing.

“It will also displace the imported diesel generators that are currently choking our homes and cities, and a major drain on the country’s foreign exchange through the imported fuel on which they run.”

Explaining further, the Seplat director said, ‘This issue extends beyond fossil fuels, as evidenced by the increasing prevalence of solar panel thefts, further compounding economic and environmental challenges in the country, she added.

“Furthermore, we need to encourage more Nigerians to cook with cleaner energy, not biomass, which is a major source of air pollution, avoidable health problems, and unnecessary deaths, as well as driving deforestation and loss of biodiversity.

‘We believe that a switch to LPG or, where possible, electricity, will cut pollution, improve health, and most importantly, free rural women from the time-consuming burden of fetching firewood, so they can spend more time with their families and earn valuable income.”

According to her, Seplat’s business is deeply rooted in a commitment to strong partnerships with its host and impacted communities.

She said, “From inception, we developed a robust community relations model that has guaranteed our freedom to operate and recognizes our host and impacted communities as equal stakeholders in their economic and social development.’’

“When I was growing up in the 1990s, my perception of the international oil companies operating in the Niger Delta was that they were focused on taking as much of the value of our national resources as they could for themselves while giving away not as much as expected back to local communities.

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