Nigeria, Morocco embark on joint venture to link Africa to Europe

Sunday 04/12/2016
Towards fostering regional economic integration

ABUJA - Nigeria and Morocco have signed a joint venture to construct a gas pipeline that will connect the two nations as well as some other African countries to Europe, Nigeria's minister of foreign affairs said on Saturday.

The agreement was reached during a visit by the Morocco's King Mohammed VI to the Nigerian capital Abuja, Nigerian minister Geoffrey Onyema said, adding that the pipeline project would be designed with the participation of all stakeholders.

"In this agreement both countries agreed to study and take concrete steps toward the promotion of a regional gas pipeline project that will connect Nigeria's gas resources, those of several West African countries and Morocco," Onyema told reporters in Abuja.

Onyema said the project aimed to create a competitive regional electricity market with the potential to be connected to the European energy markets.

No timeline was given for when the pipeline construction work will start and how much it will cost.

In a government video posted on Twitter on Friday, Onyeama said that the pipeline would "go along the coast from West Africa -- Nigeria -- all the way up to Morocco and into Europe eventually".

"That's a very big and important project for us," Onyeama added, without giving further details.

Moroccan media reported that the pipeline extension topped the agenda in the talks, with the Economie-Enterprise website reporting that the two countries would sign a memorandum of understanding shortly for the "highly ambitious project estimated at several billion dollars".

The Telquel.ma website said the work would see the pipeline extended "towards Morocco, passing through Dakar".

Nigeria is rich in hydrocarbons but produces little electricity, making its industries uncompetitive. Its economy now faces a recession caused by a plunge in crude prices.

"Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco also agreed to develop integrated industrial clusters in the sub-region in sectors such as manufacturing, Agro-business and fertilizers to attract foreign capital and improve export competitiveness" the foreign minister added.

Algeria held talks with Nigeria as far back as 2002 for a similar pipeline crossing the Sahel region, but ultimately the Algerian government was unable to finance the project.

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