DisCos seek to quit power sector investment

Babatunde Fashola

THE Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) yesterday notified the Minister of Power, Work and Housing Babatunde Fashola that they are ready to quit the business once they get refund of their investment from the Federal Government.

The companies lamented that they had been running the assets at a loss, stressing that they bought the distribution companies without having physical access to them owing to the Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees’ (NUEE) objection to the privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

Speaking at a news conference in Abuja, the Executive Director, Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors (ANED), Sunday Oduntan, said the briefing was to address the tariff gap in the electricity market.

He added: “We are not advocating for the increase in tariff for consumers. We are just saying that this gap needs to be recognised and something needs to be done about it.”

The DisCos called on the minister to avail them the opportunity of a roundtable deliberation on how to bridge the N1.3 trillion gap in their financial books that has become an impediment to the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) and the ability of the investors to meet their obligations to the consumers.

But when asked why the DisCos were not quitting the business since they were running at a huge loss, he said the distribution firms in the last two years put in a force majeure twice for the government to take the licence and refund their money, but the government turned down the requests.

Oduntan said: “The issue of us not quitting is that I am sure you will agree with me that somebody who has put so much money into a business cannot just walk away without getting his money back.

“And we all know what happened to Yola in terms of payment after the investor had put in for force majeure and they have left the network long  ago and promises were made to pay them their money back and up till now, nothing has been paid.”

He added that in the last five years, the DisCos have twice put in force majeure telling the government “please take your licence, please give us our money back, we are no more interested in this business. And the government on those two occasions refused. The last one was just last year”.

As reporters pressed the investors to state how soon they would quit, if they get their money, the chairman, Jos Electricity Distribution Company, Alhaji Tukur Modibo, said they were ready to quit one minute after receiving their refund.

He added that no investor is a father Christmas. The chairman offered to accept a discount of $10 million to exit the asset within 24 hours.

His words: “We bought the DisCo for $82 million, but we are ready to collect $72 million to quit within 24 hours.”

Also, Mr. Ambibola Odubiyi of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company said “the whole power sector in Nigeria is weak”.

He, however, called for caution, stressing that the firms were not quitters but they only require the cooperation of government to improve the power sector.


TCN tells power firms to take cue from Togo, Benin

THE Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has asked Nigerians and the electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to take a cue from stable power network from the Republic of Benin and Togo that get 80 per cent of their power supply from the Nigeria.

Citing how a stable network should be, its Managing Director, Mohammed Gur Usman, said: “The reality is that we need investments in the DisCos. We need to change the distribution network. Some of you may not know. Any of you who has the opportunity of entering Republic of Benin, 80 per cent of the electricity that is consumed in Benin and Togo is coming from Nigeria. ”

The chief executive officer, who addressed reporters Monday night in Abuja, said: “Go to Benin, you will have a stable power, but why is there no stable power in Nigeria?  Why is it that they have stable power and we don’t have, it is because our distribution network is weak. Go to Togo or just Benin here, and see how a distribution network is supposed to be.”

Usman revealed that the TCN is working through its functional planning system with several DisCos to build their distribution models for them.

He noted that as at last week, the company recovered 693 containers of transmission equipment out of 800 containers from the port with the support of President Muhammed Buhari and the  Minister of Power Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola.

Usman added that the TCN has secured €25 million from the European Union (EU) for the implementation of projects.

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