Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja

Discussants drawn from the public, private and international development agencies at the virtual mining week yesterday submitted that improving the power infrastructures landscape will jumpstart the mining sector in Nigeria.

The honourable minister of state for power, Goddy Jedi Agba in his opening remarks tagged: “Nigeria’s power infrastructure landscape and its impact on mining” posits that the greatest challenge confronting the power sector in Nigeria is the imbalance between power demand and supply. While the installed capacity is 13MW, the country generates an average of 3.4MW reaching a 5.4MW peak this year. He added that the estimated need is a far cry from the generated mega watt by the gencos.

According to Goddy, closing energy demand is a major goal of Nigeria and the private sector is a key actor to realizing this laudable objective.

He reeled out incentives such as tax breaks, waivers, government to government engagement to surmount bureaucratic bottle necks enjoyed by Siemens as some of the opportunities that investors will benefit from if they come to Nigeria.

“The Mining sector will begin to optimize its potentials as we begin to improve the power sector in Nigeria” he said.

A guest on the panel, Steven Gray from UK Export finance encouraged investors to take advantage of the €50 billion export support for businesses of all sizes through UKEF.

While stating the importance of Nigeria’s market, Steve cited the partnership between NEXIM bank and UKEF which has exposed Nigeria’s mining players to UK finance.

Another panelists, Segun Lawson of Thor Explorations shared his Nigeria’s mining experience from the Segilola gold project in Osun state. Segun highlighted the challenges, opportunities and possibilities in the mining sector. Stating his power problem, “Segilola gold project runs on compressed natural gas (CNG) which is only feasible in the short term, in the long run, we would need a dedicated power line to run profitably” Segun said.

He commended the supportive role of the ministry of mines and steel development and Nigeria’s youthful and vibrant work force as positives for would be investors in the mining space.

Humphrey Oriakhi of PAC Capital Ltd bemoans the snail pace of the power infrastructures since the transition from the public to private owners. He advised investors to explore power purchase agreement with the distribution companies to ramp up the power needs of mining firms.

In the same vein, Aminu Takuma of Nigeria Import Promotion Council, assured investors that the power infrastructure will soon wear a new look in the country due to an ongoing revised incentive initiative by electricity regulatory agencies to liberalize the renewable energy space for private sector participants. He said this initiative will allow investors to explore waste to energy, solar or wind alternatives.

Speaking further, Clement Aghayere of Africa Bridge Capital Ltd challenged government to rise to the occasion by de-risking the identified constraints ranging from political, credit and power infrastructural deficit to make mining the darling of investors in Nigeria.

All the panelists agreed that Nigeria’s mining sector has enormous potentials owing to the untapped rich mineral deposits across the country and concluded mining will be the greatest winner if the various gaps are improved upon.