Government moves to privatise electricity transmission firm
Plans concessioning of 22 airports
The Federal Government is planning to hand over the (TCN) to private sector concessionaires.
A top government official told The Guardian at the weekend that the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), and other concerned bodies have commenced the development of a concession plan for the nation’s transmission infrastructure. TCN is regularly referred to as the weakest link in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
With the contract it signed with Manitoba Hydro International of Canada for the management of TCN ended, and control now under Nigerian administrators as part of the post-Manitoba reversion plan, the government’s concession move is expected to chart the part for a more viable transmission firm.
The government official said the plan to hand over TCN to private sector operators might take a year or two to be concluded, noting that the formulators of the proposed concession blueprint are studying several options. The final document is expected to incorporate ingredients that will hopefully stimulate investors’ interest and make the corporation attractive to them.
The Guardian learnt that a number of local and international investors have been mounting pressure on the government to open TCN to private sector participants to put in the required funds and expertise to address the many problems associated with the nation’s wheeling capacity.
No government official was willing to speak officially on the development. It was learnt that the final plan would be unveiled when the draft is completed and approved by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).
An official said: “I can confirm that government is developing a concession plan for TCN. This could take a year or two to finalise. The plan is to make TCN attractive to investors. The handover of the transmission firm to Nigerian management is part of the reservation plan as contained in the management contract with Manitoba.
“The Ministry of Power and the BPE are currently studying available options towards building TCN to the level where it can be concessioned.”
A United States-based energy lawyer, Felix Ayanruoh, welcomes the decision to develop a concession plan for TCN. He described the nation’s transmission segment as one fraught with several problems that could only be corrected by private sector participation in the form of concession.
Ayanruoh told The Guardian: “To say that the transmission segment of the entire value chain of the nation’s power sector is the weakest link is begging the question. The government’s resolve to concession the transmission segment is a welcome development. The governments of Brazil, Philippines and Peru had their transmission segments concessioned to address their prolonged electricity supply crisis.”
Also, dissenting voices notwithstanding, the Federal Government is to concession the remaining 22 airports in the country, after the first big four.
The government, currently shopping for investors for the Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano international airports, said a decision had been made to concession all the domestic airports and to have them transformed before the end of the current administration.
Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, at a meeting with aviation workers said the concessioning would be in the best interest of all, especially at a time government has no money to spend on such critical infrastructure.
In a related development, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos again experienced a blackout on Saturday, at a time most international passengers were getting checked in.
The outage, which brought operations to a halt for several hours, has almost become a daily embarrassment and has been blamed on construction work at the nearby new terminal.
The Federal Government has earmarked the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) and Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA) for the first phase of the concession.
Aviation workers under the aegis of Air Transport Senior Staff Services of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) have consistently kicked against concessioning for fear of losing their jobs.
Meeting the representatives of ATSSSAN and NUATE in Lagos Saturday night, Sirika assured that no worker would be sacked in the proposed concessioning of the four major airports and the 22 that would follow in the second phase.
He said that for the sake of transparency on the plan, the government had given the unions the opportunity to become members of the Concession Project Delivery Committee, to enable them to make input into the process.