Africa: Power Sector is Ready for ‘Stampede’ of Investment – General Electric


July 1, 2013

Abuja — The U.S.-based multinational General Electric, which points to a 100-year record of involvement in Africa, is one of the companies participating in the Power Africa initiative, announced during President Obama’s Africa visit, designed to double access to electricity across sub Saharan Africa. GE is expanding operations in several places, perhaps most aggressively in Nigeria. Last year, GE and the Federal Government of Nigeria signed three Memorandum of Understanding agreements (MOUs) outlining cooperation in the energy, healthcare and rail transportation sectors. Ground-breaking for a U.S.$250 million manufacturing facility in the port city of Calabar took place two weeks ago. Lazarus Angbazo, President and CEO of GE Nigeria, discussed the company’s growth strategy in an interview with Reed Kramer in Abuja last month. Excerpts:

Why has GE decided to enlarge operations in Nigeria?

This is a country where the GE portfolio – the full GE portfolio – fits perfectly in terms of the need of the country and the capabilities of the country.

You can’t get away from the fundamentals of this country – 170 million people with tremendous natural wealth [and] and an unbelievable entrepreneur spirit. There’s opportunity around the continent, but I have to say that the opportunity is of a different order of magnitude in Nigeria.

The company has been operating in some of the toughest places around the world, and Nigeria is probably one of the toughest. We’ve been operating here for more than four decades. Now top management starting with Jeff Immelt [the CEO], John Rice [vice chairman] and Jay Ireland [CEO of GE Africa] are making a commitment [to increase activities] based upon a sound understanding of the long-term fundamentals of the country. Their support has been amazing – in terms of resources but also in terms of their personal investment of time in the country. They’ve come here many, many times.

I am absolutely convinced that the investment is going to pay – not just in the power sector but in the oil and gas sector, the healthcare sector, the aviation sector or the transportation sector.

Tell us about the new plant being built in Calabar?

When Jeff Immelt came to Nigeria in January, one of the initiatives he announced was the commitment to invest in a multi-model service and manufacturing facility. This facility in the Calabar Free Trade Zone will provide local servicing capability for a full range of power-generating equipment in Nigeria – capability that we’ve never had – and make Nigeria a local hub for servicing GE turbine generating machines for all of Africa.

The facility is both servicing and manufacturing. On the manufacturing side there are a number of product lines in the oil and gas sub-sea exploration and production segment in order that we will be able to localize the manufacture and assembly of those product lines.


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