ECOWAS Countries to Learn from PHCN Privatisation

Nigeria’s reform of her electricity industry which include the privatisation of successor generation and distribution companies created from the unbundling of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) will serve as a learning curve for member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), THISDAY has learnt.

Such level of interests on Nigeria’s electricity privatisation programme by ECOWAS member countries was shown yesterday at the consultative committee meeting of the fourth ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA) currently holding in Banjul, capital of the Gambia.

Shortly before going into a closed door session, member countries of ERERA, which comprise electricity regulatory authorities of ECOWAS countries, including the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), indicated their willingness to learn from Nigeria’s privatisation experience especially in line with their aspirations to foster a competitive regional cross-border trade of electricity.

Discussions on minimum regulatory risk for all stakeholders in the electricity market, best contractual arrangements between operators in member states as well as transparency in cross border power trade are some of the issues that will dominate proceeding at the forum.

Other issues such as the creation of transparent, predictable, and harmonised regulatory practices in the region to attract capital investments in the electricity sector through sustainable market rules are also to be discussed; NERC’s Commissioner for Government and Consumer Affairs, Dr. Abba Ibrahim, however, told THISDAY that Nigeria’s experience on these issues have being acknowledged by members of ERERA who thus look up to her for guidance.

Ibrahim stated on the sideline of the meeting that Nigeria’s electricity privatisation programme remains peculiar and provides a learning curve for members of ERERA.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has again stated that it has paid the entitlements of every verified bona-fide member of staff of the defunct PHCN and was, therefore, not owing any of them, except those whose employment details were yet to be verified.

The Director General of BPE, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, said recently at an occasion organised by the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), that the federal government has remained magnanimous to the demands of workers of the defunct electricity utility, adding that it will also go all the way to ensure that every outstanding authentic staff of PHCN are paid all their entitlements.
Dikki said: “We have paid every PHCN staff who has gone through a verification process and has been authenticated as a bona-fide PHCN staff; we have done a biometric of about 40,696 who have been so verified and we have paid them both the severance and pension component that goes to their retirement savings account.

“All those have been done, there are, however, those that have issues and I am happy that members of the labour union were part of the committees that verified the workers and so they know the issues; there are 1478 from Enugu Distribution Company, whose bio-data were corrupted and we have already sent a team that have already concluded the biometric capture and we are now collating information to allow us remit their funds in the next few days to their respective account.

“There are 2500 casual workers whom we have not yet received documents authenticating their status as staff of PHCN, those that we have verified, we have already regularised their employment in line with agreement that was reached with the union and have already paid but the 2,500 are those that we have not been able to verify up till now and we have been waiting for the successor companies that engaged them to send us their data and we verify to pay them.

We have another 900 scattered around the country whose bio data have also been corrupted and we have also put a mechanism in place to capture them biometrically and as soon as we are able to do that we will pay them.”


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