Underperforming state power firm scrapped

power: Image: Sunday Alamba/Associated Press

The Federal Government has formally scrapped its inefficient and graft-ridden electricity firm and handed its assets to private investors in a bid expected to improve power supplies.

The investors who have become beneficiaries of the privatisation drive include Seoul-based Korea Electric Power Corporation as well as local investors.

“The PHCN (Power Holding Company of Nigeria) has essentially ceased to exist,” Power Minister Chinedu Nebo said at a brief ceremony while handing over the Abuja (power) Distribution Company to its new owner.

“We now have distribution, generation and transmission companies. So, it is no longer PHCN,” Nebo said.

The privatisation of PHCN has long been in the works in Nigeria, where blackouts occur multiple times daily despite the country’s status as the continent’s largest oil producer.

From PHCN, the government has created 18 successor firms comprising 11 for electricity distribution, 6 for power generation and one for transmission.

Nigeria has portrayed the privatisation of electricity generation and distribution as a reform capable of finally bringing steady power supplies to the country, where businesses are forced to rely on diesel or petrol generators to cope.

President Goodluck Jonathan in September handed over operating licences to investors for most of the companies created from the splitting up of the PHCN after payment of a total sum of about $2.5 billion.

The government will retain ownership of the national grid, but privatise its management. Canada’s Manitoba Hydro International was named as its manager for three years in 2012.

The privatisation of telecommunications in Nigeria is generally credited with bringing improved service and accessibility to the country.

However, critics have expressed concerns that many of the bidders for power assets have been politically connected barons in Nigeria and questioned whether the assets will be properly managed.

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