Aba Ring-fenced Area: BPE Inaugurates Committee to Resolve Conflicts in Geometrics’ Takeover

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja 
The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has inaugurated an inter-agency committee to resolve critical regulatory and operational issues surrounding the smooth transition and hand over of the Aba Ring-Fenced Area to APL/Geometrics.

The inauguration of the committee came after the privatisation agency announced on February 16, 2022, that the management of Geometric Power had formally acquired the Aba Ring-fenced area from Integrated Electricity Limited, a core investor in Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), thereby ending a nine-year legal tussle over the rightful owner of the project. Inaugurating the committee in Abuja, the BPE Director General, Mr. Alex Okoh affirmed that after the handover, APL/Geometrics in collaboration with the EEDC commenced the transition and handover processes by setting up a joint transition committee.

He, however, observed that in the course of this, certain issues cropped up, one of which was that the Asset Transfer Agreement presumed that APL/Geometrics would generate and distribute power, which apparently is not yet the case. He also alluded to the power allocation and tariff in the franchise area; the terms and conditions of EEDC’s vesting contract with the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) did not envisage APL/Geometrics were others issues that cropped up.

Others were Service Level Agreement with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN); the provision and requirements of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Loan Agreement and the attendant escrowed control of all EEDC bank accounts. They also included the centralised Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure for Metering and Meter Data Bases, Billing and Billing Data Base, Enterprise Resource Planning System and Infrastructure and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System in the Franchise Area.

According to a statement issued by the Head, Public Communications, BPE, Ibeh Uzoma Chidi, the BPE chief executive also cited the fact that EEDC has APL/Geometrics employees who are no longer accountable to EEDC accessing and utilising their metering/billing ERP and CRM systems; as well as the continued commitment of exited staff of EEDC under the control and management of APL/Geometrics in collecting revenue from postpaid customers for settlement of EEDC invoices from NBET and Market Operator (MO), TCN.

 Okoh stated that to resolve the issues amicably, EEDC in a letter to the BPE had requested the intervention of concerned government agencies hence the inauguration of the Committee.
While charging members of the committee to discharge their mandate expeditiously, Okoh said they were selected in recognition of their wide experience and knowledge of the subject-matter; and expressed confidence that they would  carry out the assignment successfully.

The committee which cuts across critical stakeholders, including the BPE, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Company, CBN and TCN- the Market Operator (MO) is to conclude its assignment within 60 days. 

It is chaired by the Director, Energy at the BPE, Mallam  Audu Uba Mohammed.
An agreement was entered into between the federal government, the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and Aba Power Ltd (APL) on April 28, 2005. The parties executed a supplemental agreement on August 31, 2006. 

The area of coverage delineated by NEPA through the lease agreement is referred to as Aba and Ariaria Business Units, to which the initial agreement gave an exclusive right to APL to operate within the area.

During the privatisation programme of the federal government in 2013, Interstate Electric acquired 60 per cent of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) from the BPE pursuant to a Share Sale and Purchase Agreement (SSPA) dated August 21, 2013 between the BPE and Interstate with several other agreements signed with them.

After the privatisation programme, the distribution licence was issued to EEDC over five South-east states, which area also included previously, and exclusively licensed Aba Ring-Fenced Area granted to APL, without carving out the existing Aba Electricity Distribution Company (APL) network.  

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