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Work on the $1 billion Azura-Edo Independent Power Project kicked off yesterday as President Goodluck Jonathan turned the sod for the commencement of construction work on the project.

President Jonathan who assured that the Federal Government will work with the Private Sector to grow the economy hailed the project which was conceptualized in 2010 and jointly incubated by the Edo State Government under Comrade Adams Eric Oshiomhole and Amaya Capital, the key promoters of Azura Power West Africa Ltd as a first in many ways.

According to the President, “We are happy to associate with Azura in this private investment. This project is a first in so many ways. It is the first fully financed private power plant, it is also the first power project to see the World Bank financial guarantee and multilateral investment guarantee agencies”.

He said, “This 450 megawatts of new generation capacity will attract almost $1 billion mainly in foreign investment into the power sector. This is made up of $700 million in the construction of the power plant and $300 million associated with the gas infrastructure.”

President Jonathan who noted the importance of power to the groth of an economy said “Without power, the economy cannot grow the way we intend it to grow. The power roadmap has set up the key fundamental issues that needed to be addressed to remove the obstacles of the private sector investment thereby enabling sectoral growth.”

He noted, “The fastest way to increase power generation is by completing the integrated national power plant which has been suspended for a number of years. Subsequently we have addressed every one of these issues by reconstituting and empowering an independent electricity regulatory commission as a bulk trader and capitalizing it to the tune of $800 million and concluding the privatization of the PHCN successor companies in a globally adjudged transparent process and settling all labour liabilities.

In his remarks, the Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Eric Oshiomhole said, “The decision by the Azura Group and the support that they have enjoyed by both the International and Local Financial institutions is the most potent vote of confidence on the reforms that has been initiated in the power sector

“It has shown that you believe that these reforms are meant to stay. It also shows that bringing an investment of $800 million regardless of what is happening in other parts, that this country is still the safest in the continent for both foreign and local investors.

Oshiomhole said, “The power sector is a sector to which the people had virtually given up. The politics of privatizing the power sector is as old as 1999 and we are beginning to see that the private sector is now having renewed confidence in the reforms you have helped to revived. “

Earlier in an address of welcome, the Minister for Power and Steel, Professor Chinedu Nebo said the Azura Power Plant is a 450 mega watts power plant which is expected to be completed in 2017.

Also speaking, the Managing Director of Azura, Dr. David Ladipo said the Azura Project is being developed by a Consortium of Local and International Investors led by Amaya Capital Ltd, and American Capital Energy and Infrastructure.

He disclosed that the Azura-Edo Project is the first of a new wave of projects currently being developed in Nigeria.

The Azura-Edo IPP is projected to provide over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs for the people of the state from the construction to the post-construction period of the project.