BY NOEL ONOJA
Successor companies of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), esterday, got their certificates after having successfully paid the statutory 25 per cent initial bid fee to commence the take-over of the companies at the occasion of the Presidential Power Reform Transaction Signing Ceremony (PPRTSC) in Abuja.
The event, which had President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the Vice President Namadi Sambo, and other industry captains in attendance was described by the Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, as ground-breaking.
“This ceremony repre- sents a major milestone in the government’s power reform initiative, as you will agree with me, and to the credit of my predecessor in office, we have made great strides and have recorded major success in the achievement of the power reform.”
Recall that after the bidding process conducted by the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE), 15 successor companies emerged as preferred bidders including ten (10) Generating Companies (GenCos) and five (5) Distribution Companies (DisCos) who paid up 25 percent the initial bid prices for which they have received certificate for; these companies are also expected to the balance of 75 percent within the next six months.
Nebo identified some of the challenges currently facing the sector reforms to include overlapping due to the unprecedented size and scope of the reform programme, and also the outstanding unresolved labour issues.
He, however, pointed out that the “Resolution of the labour issues is at an advanced stage; we expect to conclude all labour severance settlement issues before the end of June 2013. The process for the sale of Afam Power Plant and Kaduna DisCo is on-going and the BPE is constantly in consultation with the preferred bidders to ensure seamless transfer of ownership without any slump in service delivery.”
Speaking earlier at the ceremony, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Power Mr. Beks Dagogo-Jack, who urged for more private sector participation told the gathering that “The power sector reform agenda of this administration kicked off a little over two years ago in August 2010, with the launching of the Nigeria Power Sector Reform Roadmap, has recorded impressive progress and now well on the way to entering the next crucial phase – the Transitional Electricity Market (TEM) stage for the commencement of a fully contracted electricity market mode under a robust commercial and technical regulatory regime.”
Gas supply and availability
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Denziani Allison Madueke, told stakeholders that “The gas sector is today executing the first World Bank Partial Risk Guarantee agreement to underpin the Chevron/Egbin Gas Supply Agreement and with this agreement, the Gas Sale and Aggregation Agreement (GSAA) formally comes into effect and this approach is to be replicated across various other GSAs within the power sector.”
The minister hinted that domestic gas supply in Nigeria as at the end of March 2013, rose to all time high of 1500 million standard cubic feet per day and continues to grow; “Over 70 percent of this is directed to the power sector, we have aggressively driven the Domestic Gas Supply Obligation scheme and grown supply at a pace that far outweighs global average growth rate of supply.
“Despite the various challenges in supply, we remain on cousre relative to plan, the ever increasing demand for gas by the Power Sector often masks the significant progress that is being made in supply growth as it understates the aggressive demand growth for gas by the non-power sector which is also being addressed; in addition, we have also embarked on the most aggressive expansion of gas infrastructure in the history of Nigeria, in the last 12 months alone we have completed over 150km of gas pipelines and have another 350km underway for completion in few months,” the minister said.
In a closing remark, President Jonathan pledged his administration’s continuous support for the total transformation of the sector, and urged private sector participants to continue to partner with government in ensuring that the sector is completely turned around for the benefit of all Nigerians.