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Energy Committee Hosts NASENI, Atomic Energy Commission

By James Akpandem
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The National Conference Committee on Energy on Thursday hosted officials of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) as part of its fact-finding mission that would guide members in their recommendations to the Conference which returns to plenary next week.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Rashid Ladoja said the Committee was interested in knowing whether the agency could commercialise its product for patronage by Nigerians.

The Committee also asked questions on the economic viability of using solar energy for rural electrification in view of the challenges of installing functional public power supply in such areas.

Leader of the NASENI team and Director, Planning and Policy Analysis, Dr. Ibrahim Abdulmalik said the agency has developed a pilot solar power manufacturing plant at Karshi in Abuja and has signed an agreement with China Great Wall to manufacture solar panels locally.

He lamented that past administrations have not adequately funded research and development and that most of the funds available for research and development were badly managed.

According to Abdulmalik, NASENI is collaborating with the Great China Wall to establish a high voltage laboratory and a transformer production and repair company.

He advocated a National Council for Research and Innovation with constitutional backing to ensure that funding would be appropriated for every year.

The director revealed that government agencies particularly the Energy Commission patronized foreign sub-standard products in place of their own, and at more exorbitant prices.

Some members of the Committee lamented the inability of government to comply with the law stating that one per cent of the nation's budget be committed to research and development.

Officials of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission also appeared before the committee. It was led by the Director Manpower Training and Development, Professor Simon Mallam.

Stressing the effectiveness of nuclear in power generation, Mallam said a nuclear power plant has a lifespan of about 60 years and is environmentally friendly. However, he said the major drawback would be the initial investment which he put at about between $6 billion.

He said the plan of the agency was to have a 1000 megawatts plant by the year 2020 but that the commission still needs appropriate legal framework to function properly and also needs to build necessary infrastructure.

Mallam disclosed that the commission has signed two bilateral agreements with the Russian Federation on the development of its infrastructure; stating that the commission decided to deal with Russia because of its experience in nuclear matters.

He said about 75 per cent of electricity generation in France is through nuclear power while the United States of America alone has about 100 nuclear power plants.

According to him, the agency is building friendship and co-operation with the international community through the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Also on Thursday, the Committee on Public Service played host to the committee of retired ambassadors who advocated creation of a Foreign Service Commission and appointment of Head of Foreign Service.

The retired ambassadors led by Ambassador Abdullahi Ahmed bemoaned what they called dearth of professionalism in the foreign service and called for urgent intervention.

The Director General of the National Sports Commission, Mr. Gbenga Elegbeleye, also appeared before the Committee on Civil Society, Labour, Youth and Sports where he restated government's commitment to sports development.

When the committee took him up on the plight of Nigerian sports men and women who have done the nation proud but were abandoned in their trying periods, he said the commission has worked out effective plans to take care of the pathetic situation.


SIGNED

AKPANDEM JAMES
ASSISTANT SECRETARY, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS
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