World Bank chief lauds govt on electricity reforms
WORLD Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Mukhtar Diop, who is on a working visit to Nigeria Monday expressed solidarity with the Federal Government over its ongoing electricity sector reforms.
Diop, who met with members of the World Bank Youth Forum (WBYF) in Abuja, stressed that power was top on his agenda for Africa. He was particularly keen to see the pre-paid meter policy concept succeed, reiterating the need for people to only pay what they consume.
Noting that the World Bank had identified critical pools on the continent through which it would work closely with the African Union, he stressed that the bank was particularly keen to support private sector investments in the power sector.
He said: “We are currently in the process of encouraging public-private and independent power producers to intervene in the power sector. Nigeria has an ambitious programme. Our aim is to assist to accelerate the process.”
He stressed the place of effective transmission networks and systems in the electricity chain and called for the strengthening of distribution networks to ensure that the power gets to the people. “Transmission and distribution should be made more efficient,” he added.
The World Bank chief, whose presentation focused on employment and opportunities, also called on African countries to focus more on trade.
His words: “We need to focus more on trade. There are some progress recorded, but I am not sure we are moving fast enough. We need to be more aggressive in facilitating free movement of goods on the continent. There are too many borders.”
Reviewing the state of youth unemployment, he also spoke of the need for African countries to create the productive sectors to absorb the continent’s teeming young scientists and engineers.
“This is a bit of a challenge, but this is part of what we want to support countries to achieve. We also want to create platforms for established scientists to link up with or mentor younger ones. The centre of our programmes for youths is to create opportunities for them to express themselves.
“Skills, for me, is the important innovation you can bring to youths in Africa. It is important to bridge that skills gap to create more opportunities.
“We also want to make sure that the skills that will make us competitive in the global world are available. Our continent can compete with Asia and others through innovation. Innovation rules the world.”