Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are currently negotiating new financial stimulus worth N180 billion to support electricity operators in Nigeria’s power sector, THISDAY has learnt.
The paper gathered from an exclusive interview with the acting Managing Director of NBET, Mr. Waziri Bintube, at the weekend in Abuja that negotiations on the new package had advanced with the CBN favourably disposed to it.
NBET is a government agency responsible for the bulk purchase of electricity from generation companies (Gencos) for resell to distribution companies (Discos). It acts as a financial stabiliser in power trades between the Gencos and Discos.
Bintube, however, told THISDAY that the CBN had in addition to the N213 billion it approved in its Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility (NEMSF) for disbursement to operators at a concessionary term, agreed to put another N180 billion into the facility.
He also said NBET had not touched its capitalisation fund, and that while the CBN expects to wrap up its first N213 billion to the market, the new N180 billion would immediately kick in.
“The NBET has a working capital, up to $350 million was given to us under the Euro bond facility and we have that amount in our kitty which we can deploy in exceptional situations. In addition, the government has given us N50 billion from its privatisation proceed on Egbin, and which we have put in our escrow account, the purpose of that is to breach the time difference when the Gencos want their money and when they can be paid.
“In addition, there are some off-the-line supports like the Central Bank’s Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation fund that was granted by the CBN to cover obligations in the market from the date of privatisation. That was another form of support to the market.
“We are currently negotiating with the CBN again to come in with a second tranche. They have some amount that they are yet to disburse but even after that, we are looking at getting the board to approve another second tranche on top of the N213 billion that has already been approved. We are looking at about N180 billion,” said Bintube.
Asked if the negotiations have largely being positive, he said: “Yes, we have the assurance of the CBN governor. He is very dedicated to resolving the logjam and ensuring that all the key pillars of the economy work because they are interrelated.”
He added: “If the power plants work, the manufacturers will have lesser problems, the banks will get paid for their products and then there will be less need for foreign products to come in and that reduces the request for foreign exchange. Just imagine that if our refineries are working, we will not need to depend on importation which takes away a lot from us including profits and jobs.”
Bintube also disclosed that NBET in conjunction with United States’ President Barack Obama’s Power Africa Initiative, recently trained key government agencies and officials involved in evaluating, reviewing and regulating power projects in the country on understanding Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and Put Call Options Agreements (PCOAs).
He said the training was done to help the agencies and its officials understand the contents and significance of the PPAs and PCOAs considering that they would always have to come across it for review and approvals for investors who are interested in building power plants in Nigeria.
According to him, the ministries of power, finance, justice and Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), as well as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were some of the agencies that were trained on the use of the industry documents.
“Over the past several months, NBET has been negotiating PPAs and PCOAs with numerous gas and solar independent power project developers who are actively developing utility scale projects which will create circa 5,000 megawatts of new generation capacity for the country.
“The NBET PPA-PCOA training was designed to familiarise key government officials with the PPA and PCOA documents which will then be submitted to their respective offices for approval,” Bintube added.