By Clara NWACHUKWU

A number of companies are hopeful of winning multiple bids from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, electricity distribution companies, DISCOs that have been put up for sale by the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE.

There are 11 DISCOs including Abuja, Benin, Enugu, Eko, Ibadan, Ikeja, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt and Yola that were created from the unbundling of PHCN.

A breakdown of the 54 bidders that met the July 31 deadline for the submission of technical and financial proposals for the purchase of the companies showed that some of them submitted more than one bid.

The highest number of bids was submitted by Integrated Energy Distribution & Marketing Ltd, which bided for four of the companies including Eko, Ibadan, Ikeja and Yola.

A total of four companies, among them Rockson Engineering Company Ltd; Skipper Nigeria Ltd; ENL Consortium Ltd; and KEPCO/NEDC Consortium bided for three each. While Rockson put in a stake for Benin, Ikeja and Port Harcourt DISCOs; skipper put in for Abuja, Ibadan and Kaduna; ENL for Abuja, Eko and Ibadan; and KEPCO/NEDC for Eko, Ibadan and Ikeja, respectively.

About six other companies including OANDO Consortium, Interstate Electrics Ltd, RENSMART Power Ltd, West Power & Gas, NAHCO Power Consortium; and Honeywell Energy Resources International Ltd all bided for two companies each.

Further breakdown of the bids showed that more companies were interested in the Ikeja DISCO, which attracted 10 bids, possibly because it is the largest in the country. This is followed by Eko which got nine bids, Benin and Ibadan got seven each, Abuja 5 and Enugu 4.

The fact that the northern DISCOs, Jos, Kaduna and Kano got very low bids, two respectively, may not be unconnected with the insecurity situation in that region of the country, in view of the mayhem unleashed by Islamic militants, Boko Haram.

Furthermore, Port Harcourt, which analysts expected to attract more bids in view of its status as Nigeria’s energy hub, also had a poor outing with three bids, which may be linked with the crisis in the Niger Delta region, which is slowly being resolved through presidential amnesty.

How the bids were spread are as follows:

The Privaatisation Bureau noted that “Prospective core investors, who must be local and/or international power distributors or investors with power distributors as technical partners, will be responsible for operating the distribution companies, making the necessary investments to improve the distribution network and customer service in line with the objectives of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

It is uncertain if local content capacity will come into play in selecting the core investor, and if this happened, companies like Rockson Engineering, which already has vast experience in power generation by building the Omoku (Rivers), Alaoji (Abia), Gbaran (Bayelsa), and Egbema (Imo) independent power plants, IPPs, will have an edge over other bidders.

Similarly, the Oando Consortium, which bidded for two of the DISCOs- Eko and Ikeja, has also been playing a key role in the Lagos electricity sector, with the construction of the Akute power plant.

All transactions regarding the bids for either the DISCOs or the generating companies, according to BPE timeline are expected to be finalised in the last quarter of the year.

“The announcement of the preferred bidders for the generating companies is October 9, 2012 while October 23, 2012 is the date for the announcement of the preferred bidders for the distribution companies,” the Bureau added.

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