Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled 105 buses running on natural gas in the capital, Abuja, and pledged a million more within a year under a plan to start weaning Africa’s most populous country from its long dependence on gasoline.
Buhari said Tuesday he expects the implementation of the plan to reduce the impact “of the downstream deregulation that this government has painfully implemented,” as well as create new markets and job opportunities.
The state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp will also provide free conversion services to encourage interested motorists to switch to natural gas, Group Managing Director Mele Kyari said at the event. As an incentive, the government is providing a 250 billion naira ($639 million) fund that will offer credit to investors involved in the conversion program, with 10-year tenors and low interest rates.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, also holds the continent’s largest gas reserves of more than 200 trillion cubic feet. The Buhari administration considers the gas resources as key to powering the economy and helping to diversify it away from oil.
The government is targeting the creation of 50,000 conversion centers nationwide to help meet the target of 1 million buses running on natural gas next year, according to the Petroleum Ministry.
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