By NBF News
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NIGERIA and the United States of America (USA), yesterday, agreed on fresh collaboration towards the permanent resolution of the country's lingering power crisis.

Both parties, at a joint statement after the meeting of a Working Group on Energy and Investment of the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission in Abuja, and made available to The Guardian yesterday, reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the power sector reform and institute best practices to ensure optimal performance of the sector,  to attract needed investments.

The second meeting of the Working Group was co-chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources of Nigeria, Goni Sheikh, and the U.S. Department of State Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs, Ambassador Carlos Pascual, and U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, David Sandalow.

Recognising the need for private sector participation in power sector generation, transmission and distribution, both countries recognised that renewable energy has an important role to play in rural electrification and that by reducing flaring and monetising gas resources, Nigeria will enhance its clean electricity generation.

According to the statement, the two countries stressed the importance of the global alliance of clean cooking stoves and affirmed their co-operation to introduce fuel-efficient cooking stoves, especially to rural communities in Nigeria.

The U.S. government pledged to continue working through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to enhance capacity building in support of private sector participation in Nigeria's power sector.

For its part, Nigeria pledged to work towards a timely and comprehensive reform of the petroleum sector and uphold the transparent investment framework that marks global standards of sanctity of contracts and comparable taxation regimes.

The U.S. also recognised the leadership of Nigeria in attaining the status of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) compliant country.  Both sides pledged to work together to continue the process of ensuring the adoption of transparent rules and regulations in the extractive industries sector.

After a briefing on recent developments in the U.S., including the Cardin -Lugar Energy Security Through Transparency Provision to the 2010 Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which will complement the work of the EITI, the U.S. reaffirmed the strong interest in its private sector in investing in Nigeria and its interest in Nigeria's steps to create a stable investment climate.

Furthermore, the U.S. officials said the American private sector support agencies such as the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Export-Import Bank are committed to assess and make available financing for commercially viable projects.

The Nigerian participants included officials from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Federal Ministry of Power, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Energy Commission of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Environment, NEITI, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, and Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.  The U.S. delegation included officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Agency for International Development.

The Federal Government had earlier, reached out to USA on the electricity problem plaguing the country.

Nigerian officials, who met with top management delegation from the USA Department of Energy, specifically called on the country to step up its technical support to the reforms in the power sector, noting that though America has supported Nigeria in the past, there was need to increase the tempo, especially now that the country was not going back on its commitment to improve the electricity supply to its citizenry.

Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji, who met with the team from the USA Department of Energy, USAID and officials of the American embassy in Nigeria, also requested the assistance of the visitors to second a Nigerian who currently works as a senior manager in the USA Department of Energy to come back and assist Nigeria in its power reform agenda. The delegation was accompanied by Nigeria's Ambassador to USA, Prof. Ade Adefuye.