Zambia’s CEC eyes stake in Nigeria power firm


26 August 2011, Sweetcrude, Lusaka – Zambia’s largest supplier of power to the mines, Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC), plans to bid for a stake in a Nigerian state power company that is scheduled for privatisation, a senior executive said yesterday.

Nigeria is the Africa’s biggest oil and gas producer but is blighted by persistent electricity outages. It plans a multi-billion dollar privatisation of its power sector to improve efficiency.

CEC’s managing director for corporate development, Michael Tarney, said the firm intends to bid for part of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to gain a foothold in the large and populous economy.

The government had split the distribution network of PHCN into 11 different units valued at about $100 million each, he said.

“We will be looking at bids for one or two of these units,” Tarney told Reuters. “The bids are going in the first quarter of next year and in the remaining part of this year we will be undertaking some due diligence.”

Nigeria’s electricity generation sometimes plunges below 1,000 megawatt (MW), largely due to a lack of maintenance at power stations, around a tenth of the country’s basic needs.

Outages are a major constraint on growth in sub-Saharan Africa’s second-biggest economy, pushing up the cost of business for manufacturers and making Nigeria uncompetitive as an investment destination despite a population that makes it one of the world’s largest untapped frontier markets.

The central bank says 60 million people rely on generators and spend $13 billion a year fuelling them.

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