Nigeria Federal Government said on Monday that it has secured US $1.6 billion loan from foreign institutions for the expansion and strengthening of power transmission facilities in the country.
Professor Chinedu Osita Nebo, the Minister of Power told Journalists after a meeting of the Presidential Action Committee on Power (PACP) chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Nebo said the loans secured from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Euro Bond Issue and the Chinese Exim Bank will be used to build robust transmission infrastructure to transmit power from the existing plants and the ones that will soon come on stream.
Nebo had announced last Wednesday that seven out of 10 power plants and scores of substations being constructed under the Niger Delta Power Holding Company are ready for commissioning. He told journalists that Monday meeting of PACP focused on how to expand the transmission network to ensure that there is adequate capacity to pull out power from the power plants.
“The presentation today was by the Transmission Company of Nigeria and that was to explain to the PACP all the things we need to do to make sure that all the power generated between now and several years to come, the capacity is there to do that and also to point out the funding gaps and very thankfully to President and National Council on Privatisation, Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) and Federal Ministries of Power and Finance and Petroleum and much of what is needed to do these things are being put in place,” said Nebo.
He added that 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. Nebo also told journalists that nearly all the proffered bidders who bought the generation companies, GENCOS and the distribution companies DISCOS have paid up.
“Today it is a reality and Nigeria is gong from a public sector dominated power sector to a private sector driven power sector,” said Nebo.
“No country in Africa has taken the quantum leap to do the entire generation and distribution company utilities like that in one fell swoop,” the Minister noted as he also affirmed that has been substantial improvement in power stability across the country.
He predicted that with the privatisation, the power sector will witness the kind of revolution that has been achieved in the telecommunications sector.
“When the telecom sector 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, we have a situation where Nigeria has over 120 million registered GSM lines.”
He added that the privatisation of power sector will result in even greater economic boom for Nigeria.
“The only difference is that we even envisage that the power sector will dwarf the telecommunication sector in what we’re going to see happen because it’s going to re-energise the entire economy; the whole manufacturing and industrial sub-sectors 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.
“ With these things in the hands of the private sector, they are going to deliver power. The only reason 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 power is available to Nigerians,” said Nebo.
He however added vandalisation of the power delivery infrastructure is the greatest challenge Nigeria is facing now in the sector.