“Yes, I think the change is phenomenal. If you go back a year, a decade, two decades, even five decades, the entire power sector in Nigeria was 100 per cent government owned. The point we are in now, October, the centre of gravity of Nigeria’s power sector has shifted to the private sector,” Atedo Peterside, Chairman, Technical Committee of the National council told CNBC Africa.
Although there will still be government involvement, the percentage share of the private sector in the power sector will be in the majority.
“All the older power plants owned by PHCN (Power holding company Nigeria) have all been privatised. The last one is Afam. All the power plants owned by PHCN, will be in the hands of the private sector,” he said.
According to Peterside, the government could not cope with making new investments as it was beyond them. With the different core investors, each one is raising financing for its own projects, its own plants and its own partners.
“Each of them will move at the speed at which they are able to mobilse resources and it will not be subject to annual budget cycle,” said Peterside.
While this is a remarkable move for the government, the National Council for Privitisation still has some other assets to get through the national integrated power projects.
“Transparency is key and that’s why some of us have not refrained or shyed away from answering questions at every stage in the process. I believe that if we have a transparent process, then we have nothing to hide. Everything we did should be public information.”
In 2011, the Nigerian government passed an Freedom of Information Act which requires the government to be able to provide information on its actions and transactions.
“Even without that, for an assignment of this nature, be ready to subject yourself to questioning and explain your actions. That is how to achieve transparency,” he explained.
Although there will be challenges and the probability of things going wrong, the social impact of the privatisation is still expected to be enormous.
“I imagine that very quickly, one by one, they will get up to speed and you will see that they will be so much better than the previous arrangement. It’s about competence, about dedication, it’s also about a better lining of goals,” he explained.
Peterside believes that it is in the interest of the distribution companies to make sure that there is power in homes as it is only when the metres run that they get paid.