We’re committed to sensible projects – World Bank

The World Bank has reiterated its commitment to development projects aimed at creating meaningful impact in developing countries.

The Executive Director, Angola, Nigeria and South Africa sub-group, World Bank, Ms. Bongi Kunene, stated this during the visit of some officials of the bank to the Azura-Edo Independent Power Project in Ihovbor, Uhunmwonde Local Government Area of Edo State.

Kunene said that the institution was open to partnerships as long as they were in line with its focus.

She also described the Azura-Edo power plant as a transformational project, which had the capacity to provide solutions.

“The project is transformational. It gives us a scope of what we can do together. We are delighted to see solutions. We will want to commit ourselves to projects that make sense and are in line with our focus,” she said.

While explaining the modality for project financing and execution, Kunene stated, “First of all, approvals happen at the government level. It starts with land and making sure that the area is zoned properly and that the environmental impact assessment has been done and is up to world standards.

“Something like this is not financed by one entity or one country. It is financed by multilateral arrangements as well as international investment banks. So, the government’s role is to make sure that all the standards are up to world standards and timelines are met.”

Speaking during the visit, the Managing Director and Co-founder, Azura Power West Africa Limited, Dr. David Ladipo, stated that the 450-megawatt project was a major contribution to Nigeria’s power sector.

According to Ladipo, with over 11 per cent of the entire power injected into the national grid coming from the plant, the output of the Azura-Edo project was satisfactory.

He, however, stated that the second phase of the project would commence soon.

Ladipo explained, “In the evenings, our turbines are doing typically 450, 460 megawatts, which means we are producing 10, 11 or, sometimes, 12 per cent of all the power that goes across the national grid.

“That gives me, the entire management team and the shareholders, including the Edo State Government, a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction. We want to ensure that we continue to produce this power and, in another week or two, we will start planning for phase two.”

On his part, Governor Godwin Obaseki said the state government would harness the opportunities created by the completion of the power project to attract more investors.

Obaseki stated, “Power is the key to industrialisation and development. We need to extend the benefits of this investment. Now that we have power, what are we going to do with it? The next set of projects are those that have to rely on this key infrastructure we have just created.

“So, we will be looking at the Benin Industrial Park, building infrastructure to encourage and support manufacturers to come in. We are looking at innovation hubs; we want to use the factor and advantage of 24/7 electricity to encourage technology groups and companies to be located in Edo State.”