Ecobank Nigeria has projected power sector funding of at least $5 billion annually over the next five years starting from 2014.
This according to the bank is in line with its policy to support the growth and development of the power sector in Nigeria, being its own contribution to the sector’s transformation initiated by the Federal Government through its privatization programme.
Ecobank has played a major role on the Buy-Side of the Power Sector Privatization Exercise by providing Financial Advisory Services, Lead Arranger Role, Acquisitioning Financing and Guarantees to Distribution Companies (DISCOS) , Generating Companies (GENCOS) and National Integrated Power Plants (NIPP).
Ecobank Country Head, Power and Energy, Olufunke Jones stated that the bank’s objective is focused on playing actively at all levels of the sector’s privatization which includes distribution, transmission and generation, adding that Nigeria has one of the largest gaps between demand and supply for electricity.
To bridge this gap, she said that the country requires a combination of favourable government policies, private sector participation and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as well as transparency and persistent monitoring that will guarantee an improved business environment.
According to Jones, the current power reforms have created opportunities for capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expenditure (OPEX) funding which is a consequence of the handover to the new owners.
“There is the urgent need to rehabilitate the distribution networks in order to make them robust and flexible enough to accommodate the nation’s demand for power,” she said.
Also commenting, Funmilola Ogunmekan, Local Account Manager, Corporate Banking Group said unlike the telecoms industry where new investors were able to take advantage of new technologies to redefine industry norms; the power sector is faced with the challenges of upgrading mostly obsolete equipment and processing under a traditional technology framework.
This, amongst others, she said, is the immediate challenge before the potential of the industry is fully manifested.
Ogunmekan reiterated that in 2014, Ecobank will leverage its position as a bank with the third largest branch network to provide effective utility collections and cash management services while providing the required additional CAPEX/OPEX funding requirement for at least five of the distribution companies across the country.