NBET: Benin, Niger Republics Owe Gencos $92m Electricity Bills

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Chineme Okafor 

Electricity generation companies (Gencos) in Nigeria’s power sector are still being owed about $92,315,986.20 by their international customers for electricity supplied to them overtime, the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) has said.

The NBET said at the last monthly meeting between the sector operators and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, in Jos, Plateau State that Niger Republic and Republic of Benin were the two international customers indebted to the Gencos.
It explained that despite their recent payment of $159,773,116.61 to the Gencos, they still have an outstanding debt of $92,315,986.20 to clear.

“NBET informed the meeting that NIGELEC (Republic of Niger) and CEB (Republic of Benin) made a total payment of $159,773,116.61 for power supplied and that the payment was duly remitted to the Gencos and service providers. NBET also reported that the outstanding of $92,315,986.20 was still pending,” said the meeting.

As part of existing bilateral relations between her neighbouring countries of Togo, Benin Republic and Niger Republic, Nigeria reportedly supplies up to 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the Community Electric du Benin (CEB) countries of Togo and Benin, and Niger Republic.
While the CEB countries have 200MW of power from the supply loop, the balance of 100MW is thus reserved for Niger Republic.

In a related development, the recent decision of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to finally append its seal on the country’s mini grid regulation to allow for investments in smaller power generation projects using mostly renewable energy technologies, have gained the applause of the international Power for All.
Power for All is a coalition of international partners committed to the use of distributed renewable energy (DRE) to bridge the widening energy poverty gaps in countries across the world, including Nigeria which reportedly has up to 89 million of its population without access to electricity.

Speaking to THISDAY on the development, the Nigerian Campaign Director of Power for All, Ify Malo, stated that the development would now go on to shape the direction of investments in Nigeria’s off grid electricity sector.

Malo, explained that regulation had been anticipated by investors who wanted some level of certainty in the sector to be able to proceed with their investments in the country’s DRE market.
She said: “I think that the finalisation of the mini-grid regulation is a welcome development and will help shape Nigeria’s off-grid electricity sector going forward.

“It has been anticipated for about a year now and the regulation provides the necessary legislative framework required for the large scale deployment of decentralised mini-grids to advance electricity access to off-grid and underserved areas without having to wait for the grid network to extend to such areas thereby fast-tracking electricity provision nationwide.”

According to her, “Prior to this regulation, there is proof of concept and proof of technologies through several various successful pilot demonstrations of mini-grid technologies to show that it is one of the easiest and cost effective way to build out electricity infrastructure.

“What this regulation does is to make this a more certain and stable business, especially for investors who are able to commercialise and grow these solutions and serve the needs of millions of Nigerians who need electricity.”
“We will definitely see increased electricity access at a faster rate in the coming years, and we are excited at the ripple effect this would have in other areas of development indicators,” she added.

Asked if investors would be able to match the expectations of the new regulation with the requisite financial investments, she said: “The DRE sector is primarily private sector driven and there are both local and foreign funds that can be accessed to finance this sector.”

“Currently there are lots of foreign companies with access to finance looking to get into the sector, and we also have the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) which the Rural Electrification Agency is expected to utilise significantly in financing mini-grid solutions. As the market grows and even at its current infancy, we also expect various large financial institutions such as the African Development Bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Bank of Industry amongst others to provide various financial instruments for the sector.

However, government would need to play a significant role in providing incentives such as tax holidays, import duty waivers amongst others to catalyse the sector and encourage further investments especially for the first set of commercial projects within the next few years,” Malo added.