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Niferia Article - La Plante 1 News | Markets | Technology |...

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La Plante 1 News | Markets | Technology | Personal Finance | Small Business | CNN.com DECEMBER 4 2007: 4:01 AM EST Lights out for oil-rich Nigeria Nigeria has more oil than any other African country. But it can't keep the lights on. By Leonard Lawal, Fortune (Fortune Magazine) -- The Egbin Thermal Power Station, a few miles outside Lagos, is Nigeria's largest generating plant, with a capacity of 1,320 megawatts. It has six units, but two have been cannibalized to repair the remaining four, and at peak hours only two turbines are functioning. On bad days, like the first week in November, when the gas supply line was sabotaged, the plant shuts down altogether. Not surprisingly, morale is low. "We are told of massive funding, but the funding never gets here," says Akintoye, an engineer at the plant. "We don't have spare parts. The contractors who built the plant are not given the maintenance contracts, which are determined by the regime in power. Even if we are operating optimally we can't serve Lagos, with a population of ten million." So it goes in Africa's largest city, in a country with more oil than any other on the continent. For large parts of the day, Lagos is without power. After 8 P.M., darkness reigns. At best Nigeria
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La Plante 2 generates 4,000 megawatts of electricity for its 140 million people, one-tenth of what South Africa produces for a population one-third as large. Most businesses in Nigeria, large and small, get around the problem by generating their own electricity and using the national grid only as a backup. Foreign investors are told to BYOI - bring your own infrastructure. When MTN, a South African mobile-phone company, set up shop in Nigeria, it had to install 6,000 generators to supply its base stations for up to 19 hours a day. The company, now the largest mobile-phone provider in Nigeria, spends $5.5 million a month just on diesel fuel to run its generators. "We rely on generating plants as our primary source of power," says Wale Goodluck,
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