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FG authorises sale of KEDCO, AEDC, other Discos over poor performance

The Discos would be unbundled along state lines due to their large sizes that often result ineffectiveness.

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FG authorises sale of KEDCO, AEDC, other Discos over poor performance

The Federal Government has expressed readiness to break power distribution companies in Nigeria into more efficient structures along state lines so as to be able to ensure their effectiveness.
The Discos would be unbundled along state lines due to their large sizes that often result ineffectiveness.

On Monday, the government revealed that the privatisation of the firms would not be reversed, but stressed that the Discos would be broken into more efficient to enable them deliver on their mandates.

This is as a result of the Federal Government’s order to sell Discos that have been taken over by banks and the Assets Management Corporation from its original investors/owners.

Currently, four Discos are under the management of banks and AMCON.

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The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company(AEDC) is under the management of the United Bank of Africa (UBA), while Fidelity Bank manages Benin Electricity Distribution Company, Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, and Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO).

Furthermore, the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company is under the management of AMCON.

The four Discos are under these new managements due to their inability to repay their loans to the financial institutions.

The government stated that those who acquired the Discos when the firms were officially privatised in November 2013, lacked the required expertise and financial capacity to run the companies.

Similarly, the Senate Committee on Power lambasted the Discos for being so inefficient since they took over the privatised assets over ten years ago, and called for the overhaul of the power firms.

In his address, while playing host to the Senate Committee on Power, led by their Chairman, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, stated that the Federal Government had commenced the restructuring of Nigeria’s 11 power distribution companies.

He also revealed that over 100 projects of the Transmission Company of Nigeria have not been completed since 2001, a period of about 23 years.

Adelabu said, “We are unbundling the Discos along state lines. Some of the Discos are too big for efficiency. They are too big for effectiveness. Ibadan Disco covers seven states. It is practically impossible for them to be efficient.

“So we are rearranging and restructuring the Discos along state lines so that each state government will know the responsible Disco for their states. Also, the federal and state governments should start exercising their rights in the operation and management of the Discos because we still own 40 per cent in the firms.

“But we have left it for the private sector operators for too long and they have messed it up. So the government must come back to take over its own right in the Discos. We are also planning to franchise the unserved communities under the Discos.”

The minister went ahead to state that “we will start seeing regulations about franchising. The fact you are Eko Disco doesn’t mean that you cannot have smaller Discos that are ready to invest in your unserved communities. So we are looking at franchising.”

Adelabu further revealed that the Oyo State Government had written to the Federal Government stating that it wants to exercise its rights in Ibadan Disco.

He said the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has been made to realise that it must sanction Discos that fail to perform, as the licences of some of the power firms might be withdrawn for non-performance.

“We are transforming the Discos and very soon you’ll see that a lot of tough decisions will be taken against these Discos because they are the last mile in the sector. If they don’t perform then the entire sector is not performing.

“So we have put pressure on NERC to make sure that it raises the bar on the activities of the Discos. If it has to withdraw licences for non-performance, why not? If it has to change the boards and managements, why not?

“And all the Discos that are still under AMCON (Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria) and some lenders (banks), within the next three months they must be sold to a technical power operator with a good reputation in utility management.

“We can no longer afford AMCON to run our Discos. We can no longer afford the banks to run our Discos. This is a technical industry and it must be run by technical experts,” the power minister stated.

Also commenting on the non-performance of Discos, a member of the committee, Senator Danjuma Goje said, “The Discos have not added anything significant to the power sector, but are just going about collecting money.

“The Discos are complete failures and should be overhauled. They have failed to live up to expectations and we have so many complaints about their poor performances.”

The Senate committee also authorised an investigative hearing on the electricity tariff hike and stated that this would be held on April 29, 2024, at the Senate.

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