Nigeria’s oil, gas and power sectors were a major focus of the recent two-day conference, with representatives of the Nigerian and United States Binational Commission (BNC), both local and federal, discussing the ongoing power reform and the importance of the country in the global oil market.
Speaking at the closing session, the Deputy Secretary of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Mr William J. Burns, said the Energy and Investment Working Group sought to build on Nigeria’s progress in reforming its power sector, as the forum held constructive conversations on how Africa’s second largest economy could attract more international private investment, boost energy output and address deficits.
According to Burns, the delegations reviewed the progress made in each of the working groups since the establishment of the Bi-national Commission in 2010 and to address a range of shared concerns.
He said the BNC is “committed to continuing to support Nigeria’s efforts to create a more effective regulatory environment.” Given the country’s “important place in the global oil market” the group “discussed ways to ensure that the natural riches of Nigeria improve the lives of the people for many years to come.”
“In particular: The Governance, Transparency and Integrity Working Group looked toward the 2015 national elections – which mark another milestone in building on the most credible elections in Nigeria’s history last April. Together we identified electoral reforms and opportunities to improve the electoral process. We discussed the importance of interagency coordination and strategies to build capacity and public confidence in Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts,” he added
Burns also highlighted efforts of the Agriculture and Food Security Working Group at examining areas for growth in Nigeria’s private agriculture sector.
According to him, the group had discussed Nigeria’s important role in regional food security, and the commission will continue its support for reforms aimed at strengthening Nigeria’s leading role. The commission is also looking to bolster agricultural lending in Nigeria, he added.
On security, Burns said the Regional Security Working Group discussed strategies to help educate the Nigerian public about the government’s efforts to secure its citizens and prevent the spread of violent extremism.
Burns said the two-day robust engagement demonstrated the importance and depth of the partnership between the United States and Nigeria.
He, however, stated that relationships like these would not grow themselves but would demand commitment, patience and sustained effort.