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Power Cut Protest Leaves Yenagoa in Darkness

Protests over constant blackouts in southern Nigeria left a regional capital in darkness for a 10th day Thursday, after angry youths shut down the local electricity supplier.

Members of the Ijaw Youths Council occupied the offices of the main power firm in the city of Yenagoa in Bayelsa state last month to demonstrate against continual outages.

The protest forced the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company to shut down operations and saw power cut off to the city of some 400,000 people and surrounding areas.

Oil-rich Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is plagued by widespread power outages that leave homes without electricity for long stretches and businesses unable to work.

The crippling power problems are seen as a major impediment to economic development in a country that has more people living in extreme poverty than anywhere else on the planet.

Queues snaked out of petrol stations in Yenagoa as local residents scrambled to buy fuel for generators.

The power company insisted it was struggling with a shortfall due to unpaid bills totaling some $45 million (40 million euros).

Nigeria has the potential to produce some 13,000 megawatts of power from its current infrastructure but on most days can only reach around 4,000 megawatts.

The central government has pledged to overhaul the electricity system and struck an agreement with German giant Siemens last year aimed at tripling reliable supplies by 2023.

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