Nigerian power firm to sell electricity to Burkina Faso

Indications emerged on Thursday that Nigeria is preparing to sell its “stranded electricity” to Burkina Faso, as the nation’s power industry continues to battle challenges.

The planned energy export is being put in place by the concessionaire of Kainji and Jebba hydro power stations, Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited, MESL.

The company said it had been approached by the West African nation and it was ready for a deal.

“I am complaining that I have energy that cannot be utilised,” said the managing director of the company, Lamu Audu, on Thursday. “And some of us are actually looking beyond the borders of Nigeria to sell our power if the Nigerian market cannot take it because we have to remain in business—-we have responsibilities to our shareholders.

“Investments have been made, and that is why we are looking into the West African market. Honestly, we are already talking to Burkina Faso. They approached us and we are willing to have deals with them to sell power to them. They are willing to buy.”

Mr Audu said this at the PwC’s Annual Power and Utilities Roundtable in Lagos.

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The company acquired Kainji and Jebba power plants through a concession agreement in November 2013, following the privatisation of the power sector.

Speaking during a panel session at the event, Mr Audu said when the firm took over in 2013, it had not a single generating unit in operation although it had an installed capacity of 760 MW.

He explained that Jebba had an installed capacity of 578 .4 MW, with six generating units.

However, he said, the company took over five generating units that had not been overhauled in 30 years.

“As we speak today, we generate 20 to 25 per cent of the energy going into the grid,” Mr Audu said.

“We have ramped up our capacity at Kainji from zero to 440 MW. At Jebba, what we concentrated on is the reliability of the existing units. We utilised the capacity of our staff to recover some of the units.

“Currently, we have a capacity of 922 MW but, on the average, it is only 600 MW to 650 MW that is utilised. So, we have stranded energy, which is seriously impacting on our ability to attract more funding for capacity recovery and capacity expansion.”

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Issues of blackout and perennial power failure have impeded on the nation’s growth and development for decades. A number of public officials who promised to deliver when appointed into the power ministry end up failing to actualise their dreams.

The minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has however said at different fora that the nation’s power situation has improved.

On Thursday, Mr Audu said some stakeholders are looking beyond the shores of Nigeria to attract investment and optimise underutilised power.

He also explained that the challenges in the Nigerian power industry are complex, adding that they nation may not experience uninterrupted power supply until the next two decades.

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