Despite delays in the implementation of the privatization of the power sector, with the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) strong indications have emerged that the project was capable of generating 40,000 fresh jobs when fully operational.
The job generation figure, which is to be achieved over a five-year period (2014–2019) would be realised if PHCN was successfully handed over to the new owners next year.
Of the 40,000 new jobs, engineers will have a fair share of 30,000, while the remaining 10,000 would go to support staff and others to be outsourced.
Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo had, earlier in the month, during a working visit to some PHCN distribution companies (Discos) facilities and generation companies (Gencos), raised the alarm that no engineer had been employed by the ministry in the last 17 years.
He regretted, however, that while old engineers in PHCN facilities across the country retired in succession, new hands were not employed to replace them.
Nebo also observed that inadequate manpower remained a major problem in the power sector, saying the country might not be able to meet the manpower needs of the new power plants springing up across the country.
He, however, assured that local content policy would be adopted in the post-privatization power sector, in order to ensure that Nigerians were given fair share in manpower engagement.
“We believe in local content, and not many foreigners will be allowed to work in the sector,” he said.
So far, PHCN has about 50,000 workers across its different distribution and generation companies across the country, which may further be reduced with the coming on board of the new owners, emplaying modern technology.
But besides PHCN, new jobs are also expected to be generated from the 10 gas turbine plants of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC),owners of the National Integrated Power Projects.
Already,the Federal Government has called for expression of interests for the 10 power plants located across the country.
The 10 plants put up for sale include in Omotoso in Ondo State (450mw), Sapele in Delta (450mw), Geregu in Kogi (434mw), Olorunsogo in Ogun (750mw) and Ihovbor in Edo (450mw).
Others are Gbarain in Bayelsa (225mw), Alaoji in Abia (450mw), Calabar in Cross River (561mw), Egbema in Imo (338mw) and Omoku in Rivers (225mw).
It would be recalled that the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) was conceived in 2004 to fast-track government’s funded initiative to stabilize Nigeria’s electricity supply system when the private-sector led structure of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) of 2005 took effect.
NIPP was originally designed around seven medium sized gas fired power stations in the gas producing states, and the critical transmission infrastructure needed to evacuate the added power into the national grid.
A commitment to electrify host communities in the vicinity of the power stations and major substations gave rise to the distribution component of the project.
The Federal Government had earlier announced plans to sell its 20 percent stake in Egbin power plant through an Initial Public Offer (IPO).
A breakdown of the planned IPO showed that the National Council on Privatization (BPE) had directed the BPE to reserve 10 percent of the 30 percent for the workers and the remaining 20 percent offered through an IPO at a later date.
Confirming the job generation prospect, Special Adviser to Minister of Power, Mr. Nicholas Ogbonna, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun, explained that the privatization of the power sector was capable of generating thousands of jobs in the next five years.
Ogbonna, who, did not give the job figures said young graduates would be needed by the new owners of the plants, adding, however that the experience of old engineers will still be needed.
Recall that Nebo had last week in London during the NDPHC road show for the sale of the 10 NIPP power plants affirmed that the divestment of its 80 percent stake when concluded will overtake gains of the telecommunications sector.
The minister explained that the present privatization process provides a huge opportunity for international investors seeking viable investment opportunities but with concomitant to add value to the economic well-being of the people of the land.
“This golden opportunity promises to dwarf the great economic revolution occasioned by the telecoms industry in Nigeria,” he said.
Information from The Sun was used in this report.