A delegation from the US company General Electric met with Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar’Adua on Monday to begin talks over the development of the country’s electricity and rail sectors.

 According to the president, Nigeria’s power and transportation infrastructure is "very critical and central" to government plans and the government was interested in forging partnerships with investors in these two industry sectors.

"We are very serious about forging ahead in these areas," he said and went on to describe the two sectors as major ingredients for rapid economic development. Funding issues put limits on the government’s ambitions but alternative financing would be explored for priority projects.

The president plans to declare a state of emergency in Nigeria’s energy sector following sporadic electricity supply. While Nigeria has an installed capacity of 6 000MW, current production is around 2 000MW. The NIPP programme aims at increasing production to a capacity of 10 000MW.

The GEC delegation was led by its president and chief executive officer for the Middle-East and Africa, Mr Nabil Habayeb and discussions included ongoing activities in Nigeria such as the production of gas turbines for the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP).

Mrs Fatima Ibrahim, minister of state for energy, said that further discussions had been set up between the parties.