Iran Offers N. Aid to Nigeria

A016883310.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iran is ready to share its nuclear technology with Nigeria to help the energy-starved west African powerhouse boost electricity generation, a senior Iranian official said.

Deputy Commerce Minister Mohammad Ali Zeyghami made the comments in a press conference late Thursday after three days of talks between officials of the two oil-producing nations in Abuja.

Both sides emphasized that any atomic energy deal they would strike would be for civilian purposes only.

“Nigeria is never entering into any agreement with Iran for any matter that has to do with weapons,” Nigeria’s deputy foreign minister Tijjani Kaura said.

“There shouldn’t be a misunderstanding between exploration or uses of energy to provide power and the uses of energy for weapons,” said Kaura, adding that the distinction was necessary “so that our relationship with Iran will not be misconstrued by Nigerians and the entire international community.”

For his part, Zeyghami said, “We not only consider it Iran’s inalienable right but also the Nigerians’ so that they could use this clean source of energy and nobody can limit the use of knowledge anywhere in the world.”

Kaura added that Nigeria was seeking cooperation on nuclear energy “in order to move our industrial ambition forward,” in an economy whose development has been hamstrung by a lack of adequate electricity supply.

Despite huge oil and gas resources, Nigeria’s electricity supplies are woefully inadequate due to decades of corruption and infrastructural neglect.

Nigeria currently generates 3,300 megawatts of electricity according to officials who claim the country’s current demands stand at around 20,000 megawatts.

In the continent’s most developed country, South Africa, around 38,000 megawatts are used to supply a population roughly a third of Nigeria’s 140 million people.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua has said that improving Nigeria’s power supply is one of his main priorities.

The two OPEC members signed a raft of agreements on customs, trade and investment, and broadcasting but Kaura said one major area of cooperation will be in the oil and gas sector.

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