FROM ISAAC ANUMIHE, ABUJA
Federal Government has formally handed over Olorunsogo Power Plc to SEPCO Pacific Partners Limited thus bringing to 16, the total number of power assets handed over to the private sector in the last four months.
Speaking at the handing over, Chairman of National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Mohammed Namadi Sambo, noted that since the passage of Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) in 2005 and the unbundling of NEPA into 18 successor companies, very little was done to advance the reform of the power sector until the coming into power of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Vice President who was represented by the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Benjamin Dikki, said the reform and privatisation programme would not have been possible without the leadership, unparalleled support and commitment of President Goodluck Jonathan and his team in the NCP, Presidential Taskforce on Power and Presidential Action Committee on Power to the roadmap, adding that the provision of stable power remained imperative to drive the economic transformation of Nigeria.
“It was the realisation that Nigeria will not attain the desired economic growth without adequate power that informed the power sector reform,” he said.
According to Sambo, reform in this very critical sector commenced in 1999, with the inauguration of the Electric Power Implementation Committee (EPIC). This, he said, culminated in the development of the National Electric Power Policy in 2001; the enactment of the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act in 2005 and establishment of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to facilitate the repeal of the now defunct NEPA Act.
“The new Act gave rise to the creation of 18 successor companies from the unbundled PHCN in three categories, namely, Generation (six companies); Transmission
(one company) and Distribution (11 companies.)” he said.
Sambo also noted that the reform was a necessary tool for laying a solid foundation for sustainable power generation and service efficiency in the sector and the privatisation of the sector was a key component of the reform and a pre-condition for the start of a competitive electricity market in Nigeria.
“Participation of the private sector would bring about higher generation capacities through the provision of more efficient and cost-effective power stations and improvement in electric power distribution in the areas of billing and collection, transmission networks,” he said, noting that such capital injection and efficiency have been inadequate in PHCN over the years, resulting in gross inadequate power supply with the attendant negative effects on the citizenry and the economy at large.
The Vice President pointed out that the Transformation Agenda of the present administration seeks to continue to open up other sectors of the economy to private sector investments, adding that this would free government resources for the provision of social services to the Nigerian people. He, however, gave the hope that
Nigeria will rise and shine brightly very soon.
The Phase 1 of Olorunsogo Power Plant, which has a capacity of 335MW was constructed between 2002 and 2007 at the cost of $167,291,674.76, with the Federal Government funding 35 per cent of the cost while the balance of 65 per cent was financed through vendor funding provided by SEPCO at an interest rate of 6 per cent per annum.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of SEPCO Pacific, Dr. Adedeji Adeleke, noted that Olorunsogo Power Plc was SEPCO’s first venture outside China but has since built over 10,000 mega watts of power in India, Iran and Saudi Arabia. He reiterated the belief of SEPCO-Pacific in Nigeria’s economy.
“I have not met a crop of individuals that are as committed, as straight forward as BPE staff,” he told staff of BPE, noting that it was the commitment and transparency exhibited by the BPE that led to the success of Federal Government’s power reform and privatisation programme, despite all the challenges encountered.