Power Africa "expects to continue" under Trump administration

USAIDUSAID in action. (Image source: USAID/Commons)Power Africa, a USAID initiative for developing the African power sector, is expected to continue under the administration of new US president Donald Trump

This is according to James G. Lykos, deputy director, Office of Economic Growth and Environment, USAID/Nigeria. In his address today at the Nigeria Power Forum, Mr Lykos said that Power Africa was established in 2013 under the administration of President Barack Obama and it enjoys "bipartisan support [with] real benefits for US commercial interests".

Mr Lykos added that USAID does not work exclusively with US companies and the agency "will work with any actors who are serious about developing the power sector in Africa and Nigeria".

In his address, Mr Lykos offered a range of suggestions for assisting Nigeria in attracting investment in the power sector. This included encouraging more consistent communication from the Nigerian government, which he said currently "does not really speak with one voice" and that there is an issue with "different information from ministries".

He also advised against the constant policy change. "The private sector project developers can handle sub-optimal policies but constantly shifting policies are a problem," Mr Lykos told the forum. "Project developers need to analyse existing agreements and frameworks and this adds uncertainty [so projects] never get the momentum. More consistency and more stability is needed."

Mr Lykos urged "broad-based consultation with stakeholders" including government, civil society, and the private sector. "This cannot be understated," he said.

Cost-effective tariffs for power are required, according to Mr Lykos, although he conceded that "this won't happen overnight".

"A clear path [towards a cost-effective tarrif] and a clear framework needs to be drafted in a reasonable amount of years," he said. He told the forum that the Nigerian government "should lead by example" by paying its own power bills on time each month.

A single exchange rate will attract more investment, Mr Lykos said, adding that he is "pleased to see the regulator finally has a board of directors [as a] positive step towards letting the power sector develop".

In regard to gas supply, Mr Lykos said the government "could do a lot to ensure stability and physical security".

"Paying people not to blow up pipelines in perpetuity is not a sustainable policy," he said.

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