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Tuesday, 1 October 2013
Power investors take over, open door to massive employment
Nigeria’s power sector reform is apparently panning out well, given the ongoing evolution of massive employment opportunities in the emerging sector, to be driven by private enterprise as the Federal Government is set to hand over the successor companies carved out of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to the new investors.
Government only yesterday did a shadow handover of the assets to the new investors as it presented certificates of ownership to new core investors of PHCN’s generation and distribution companies. The physical handover is however slated for October 30, 2013. In yesterday’s ceremony, Government also granted additional $750 million for the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company, NBET, also known as the bulk trader.
BussinessDay learnt that the privatisation exercise has started opening up a vista of opportunities for various cadres of skilled workers, as job advertisements being placed online are more related to the power sector than any other sectors of the economy. The job openings range from technicians to engineers in different categories, among others.
Just recently, the Federal Government recruited 522 engineers for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in a move aimed at tackling the challenge of electricity transmission in the country.
The post-privatisation era is expected to see increased demand for skilled persons by the investors, especially the distribution companies, to ensure better service delivery and enhance revenue.
Opportunities include investing in start-up power services companies, providing information technology services like remote monitoring, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and related services, to even supplying consumables and spares parts, he said.
Ayodele Oni, an energy law and policy expert and senior associate in top law firm, Banwo & Ighodalo said “opportunities exist in form of collaborations between Nigerians and foreigners looking to invest in the electric power sector. Like in the oil and gas industry, individuals and corporates can earn ‘finder’s fees’ for facilitating the investments of multinationals in the power sector.”
He added that for skilled Nigerians, the opportunities are countless, especially when one considers that, unlike the oil and gas industry where there were no effective local content rules for several decades, there would be local content rules for the power sector,”
“There would in fact, now be electric power lawyers, economists, technical persons, among others.”
Sam Amadi, chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), had said that the power sector reform was potentially a huge creator of jobs.
“If Nigeria is growing at seven percent without power, with steady power, the growth will double; more businesses will start and employ people. Unbundling means that with private sector investment, there will be more businesses in upstream and downstream. This will result in more job creation.”
Oni further said that “with the milestones achieved so far in the power sector, come more opportunities for the discerning Nigerian businessman and also persons who have been developing capacity in relation to electricity related matters. There would now be more opportunities along the whole value chain of the power sector for consultants, I.T experts, energy (particularly electricity) lawyers amongst other areas of human endeavour.”
The Nigerian electricity supply industry is currently characterised by an ageing workforce, most especially in the area of engineering.
Reuben Okeke, director-general, National Power Training Institute of Nigeria, also attest to the huge opportunities in the sector.
“Since 1998, there has not been structured employment in the power sector but now that there are openings for the private investors to come and participate in the running of the industry, there are several job openings that Nigerians can take advantage of,” he said, noting that there are opportunities for artisans, technicians, and engineers in the transitional electricity market.
On the other hand, the Federal Government in its commitment to ensure sustainable power supply, yesterday granted additional $750 million for the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company, NBET, also known as the bulk trader.
The fund, according to President Goodluck Jonathan, is aimed at positioning the NBET to carry out its post-privatisation mandate without financial constraints.
This is coming just as government said it was concessioning the Kainji and Shiroro hydro power plants.
President Jonathan, while performing the symbolic handing over of Share Certificates and Licenses to the 14 new Core investors of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) successor companies, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Monday, also expressed hope that the event will mark the turning point for electricity development in Nigeria.
He announced that the new owners of generation companies (Gencos) are inheriting signed gas supply and transportation agreements, adding that government will maintain the agreed gas supply pricing policy, in order to encourage new investments in gas supply and infrastructure development
“The implementation of the gas policy will culminate in a willing buyer-willing seller structure to establish a full market-driven environment,” he said.
The Gencos handed over to new owners yesterday were the Geregu, Ughelli, Kainji, Shiroro and Egbin Power Plc, while the distribution companies (Discos) include Abuja, Benin, Eko, Ibadan, Ikeja, Jos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Yola distribution companies.
The government announced that processing of paper work on the Kaduna Disco and Afam Genco were nearing completion and would soon be handed over to their new owners, while that of Sapele will await the settlement of the legal issues which have entangled the sale of the company.