FG hopes to replicate success in telcom sector in power

By The Citizen

The Federal Government has said the success story in the telecommunications sector will be replicated in the power sector as the sale of GENCOS & DISCOS sail through.

It has also said the privatisation of the sector will re-energize the entire economy, adding that the whole manufacturing and industrial sector of the country will begin to boom and that small and medium scale enterprises will begin to spring up all over the place.

The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo said this while fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the Presidential Action Committee on Power (PACP)  chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan with  Vice President Namadi Sambo in attendance as well as several other Ministers who are members of he PACP.

He said the success of the transaction calls for celebration, saying just like ineptitude was the order of the day when NITEL was still being run by government but the story change with the entrance of the GSM, so will the story change and electricity will be affordable to ordinary Nigerians.

Nebo said, “the reason we are celebrating this is that, remember what happened with NITEL when telecommunications was essentially run by government, what did we see? it was the epitome of ineptitude with regard to delivery of communication to our people but today what do we have, we have a situation where Nigeria has over 120 million registered GSM lines. In those days, you needed to bribe people in order to get a line and whenever you had a problem, it took weeks to fix, today, it is no longer so, the same thing is going to happen in the power sector.

“The only difference is that we even envisage that the power sector would dwarf the telecommunication sector in what we are going to see happen because it is going to re-energize the entire economy, the whole manufacturing and industrial sector of the country will begin to boom and in addition to that small and medium scale enterprises will begin to spring up all over the place. So there is a lot to celebrate and with these things in the hands of the private sector, they are going to deliver power.

“The only reason why they would make their money is to ensure that power is delivered to the people and once the people are getting power, the more their profit, the more incentive they have to ensure that whatever needs to be beefed up is beefed up to ensure that power is available to Nigerians”.

Nebo said much of yesterday’s deliberations centered on expanding the transmission network in Nigeria to ensure that all the power generating plants the nation is now building and commissioning, will have substantially adequate willing capacity to pull out power.

He said the presentation by the Transmission Company of Nigeria was to explain to members of the PACP all the things needed to ensure that there capacity to generate power will always be there between now and years to come as well as the funding gaps.

Nebo said already Mr. President and National Council on Privatization, Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) and Federal Ministries of Power and Finance and Petroleum were already working jointly to put these things in place.

The Minister said further that substantial amount of findings coming in form of loans from the World Bank, African Development Bank, Euro Bond issue and Chinese Exim Bank and NDPHC had already designated $1.6 billion for the expansion of Transmission facilities in the country.

“The Government is adequately prepared, everybody is excited at what has just happened, that we had such a significant compliance of all the proffered bidders who bought the GENCOS and the DISCOS as you can very well tell, most of them have paid up and most people thought it was never going to happen. Today it is a reality and Nigeria is going from a public sector dominated power sector to a private sector driven power sector.

“We believe that this is very good for the country, we are celebrating that, the entire nation is agog with it,  the International Community is amazed that this miracle could happen in Nigeria and we are so happy that everybody sees that it was a fragile situation because no county in Africa has taken the quantum leap to do the entire generation and distribution company utilities like that in one fell swoop, Nigeria has done it and I think the government of President Goodluck Jonathan should be commended for the courage and the boldness and the dexterity of purpose to ensure that this has happened and it is happening, we thank God”, he said.

On whether it was not disappointing that Nigeria was celebrating the sale of the power sector instead of celebrating constant power supply, Nebo blamed it on vandalism but said the entrance of private sector will change the story. “We are going from antecedents, as you know there is a substantial joy in many parts of the country that stability of power has become enormous in many parts of the country. We still have our challenges especially because of vandalization of the power delivery infrastructure”.