UK aid funds energy privatisation in Nigeria

17 March 2015
New research released today by campaign group Global Justice Now shows that since 2002, £140 million of UK aid money has been spent by the Department for International Development (DfID) on projects to support the privatisation of Nigeria’s energy system, with disastrous consequences for people in Nigeria.

“It’s shocking and dismaying that DfID continues to spend UK taxpayer’s money to advocate policies that have failed in the UK and all across Africa. It seems that DfID is blindly following a deeply discredited, ideological approach that only serves to line the pockets of UK consultants while further entrenching corruption among Nigeria’s elite.” said David Boys, Deputy General Secretary of Public Services International (PSI).

President Goodluck Jonathan has been a major driver of power privatisation since his election in 2011, but support from the UK government has been instrumental.

An open letter to UK development secretary Justine Greening, jointly signed by civil society organisations, PSI and trade unions, including PSI UK affiliates, UNISON, GMB and PCS, says that,

“There is a growing body of evidence that the push for privatisation of energy, water and other public services that has taken place in countries around the world has had overwhelmingly negative impacts in meeting basic human needs and realising human rights… As such, we are calling on your department to put an end to aid money being used to promote or finance the privatisation of energy or other public services in other countries.”

PSI has been monitoring the situation in Africa through its network of African energy sector unions including working closely with its affiliate in Nigeria, the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE).

 Igwebike Dominic, NUEE Assistant General Secretary said, “While it is true that improvements to electricity generation and distribution are desperately needed in Nigeria, privatisation hasn’t and won’t deliver the efficiency it promises, and is not the answer.

Privatisation has led to job losses for between 20 and 25 per cent of the workforce, and the new private employers are trying to break the unions, denying workers their most fundamental rights.

We’re facing multiple price rises, the latest being 29 per cent in Lagos state. Meanwhile, there has been no meaningful improvement to the system, apart from through funding provided by the Nigerian government, which we had been calling for before privatisation.

Can you imagine a landlord sells their property to someone else, and then uses the money from the sale to paint, furnish and upgrade the house for the new owner? This is what the Nigerian government is doing."

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