Nigeria starts road-shows for power sector privatisation

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Lagos, Nigeria — — 19 January 2011 – Nigeria has kicked off a series of investor road-shows for the planned multi-billion dollar privatisation of its power sector, in a bid to solicit interest in the country’s electricity distribution companies and power stations.

Reuters reports that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) ‒ the country’s privatisation agency ‒ has met with investors in the commercial hub of Lagos, and will hold similar meetings in Dubai, London, New York and Johannesburg over the next three weeks.

Africa’s most populous nation, plagued by blackouts, wants to privatise power generation and distribution. Government will continue to own the national grid, but its management will be privatised, Reuters explained.

The investor meetings come ahead of a February 18 deadline for expressions of interest in 11 distribution companies, two thermal generating firms and two hydropower stations.

They also precede presidential and parliamentary elections in April, which have meant the original timetable has fallen behind. Some investors have said they are reluctant to commit until the political uncertainty has cleared.

“The idea of this is that it enables investors to gain some confidence. Even if we don’t complete it before the handover of government, no harm is done,” BPE director-general Bolanle Onagoruwa said.

“From the response you have seen here, power is something that has attracted the interest of most people in Nigeria. I don’t think any administration will come in and not take the issue of reforms in the power sector seriously,” he added.

President Goodluck Jonathan unveiled the privatisation plans last August, and the government estimates it will need US$10 billion a year of investment over the next decade to meet its energy needs.

The 11 distribution companies up for grabs are in the capital Abuja in central Nigeria, the cities of Benin, Enugu, Eko, Ibadan, Ikeja, and Port Harcourt in the south, and those of Jos, Kaduna, Kano, and Yola in the north.
The thermal power stations are Ughelli Power plc, in Delta state in the southern Niger Delta oil region, and Geregu Power plc in Kogi state in north-central Nigeria.

The hydro power companies for which concessionaires are sought are Kainji Power plc comprising power stations in Niger and Kwara states in north-central Nigeria; and Shiroro Power plc, also in Niger state.

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