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Iran Offers Nuclear Technology to Nigeria

Iran has offered to share its nuclear technology with Nigeria to help boost electricity generation in energy-starved Nigeria. The deal was reached at the end of three days of talks between officials of the two oil-producing nations. Gilbert da Costa has more for VOA in this report from Abuja.

Both countries were quick to stress that the nuclear technology assistance program would be for peaceful and civilian purposes alone.

Nigeria is desperate to revive its power generation in the wake of severe electricity problems that have become so severe that much of the country goes without electricity for weeks.

Professor Bola Akinterinwa, an international relations consultant and senior researcher at the Lagos-based Nigerian Institute for International Affairs, says Nigeria is acting within a legitimate desire to tackle the debilitating power crisis.

"There is no electricity. If you come to my office now, you will see a lantern, said Akinterinwa. "We've never had electricity in this office in the past eight months, the Institute of International Affairs. It is permanently [on] generator. So now if any country wants to give us electricity, why should I be bothered whether it is controversial or not?"

The offer has prompted some international interest in view of the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program. Tehran says its nuclear program is for energy purposes but some western powers are skeptical.

Professor Akinterinwa says Nigeria should not be drawn into the controversy. "The Iranian partnership with Nigeria on this matter is to generate, to enhance greater electricity output for peaceful purposes. Since the government of Nigeria emphasized peaceful purposes and is not meant for belligerent agenda, I wouldn't see any problem with it."

Despite its huge oil and gas resources, Nigeria's electricity supplies are woefully inadequate due to corruption and a lack of maintenance of power stations.

Nigeria currently generates about 3,000 megawatts of electricity, according to officials who claim the country's current demands stand at around 20,000.