Austin Avuru, Seplat CEO Confirmed for WAPIC Opening
Story by Gladys Johnson
“Attractive opportunities abound in the generation and distribution spaces”
Austin Avuru, the Cheif Executive Officer (CEO), Seplat Petroleum Development Department Company will address the opening session of West African Power Industry Convention on 24 November in Lagos.
“For 12 years now, we have been striving to pinpoint and showcase innovative solutions for the region’s power industry”, says WAPIC programme director Natalie Bacon, “and we could not be more pleased to confirm Mr Avuru’s presence at our event, as Seplat is ramping up its supply of gas to power plants. Their entire gas services are a contribution to domestic energy security. We look forward to hear his vision for the sector.”
Financing the power sector
WAPIC’s organisers are also focusing on the financial side of the region’s power sector with the programme emphasising the exciting new opportunities for funding that are being created by power sector reforms in West Africa. During WAPIC, the region’s challenges and the winning strategies to unlock capital, mobilise new sources of finance and attract investment will be discussed during the Africa Power Finance & Investment Forum.
This high-level finance and investment focused meeting will also look at success stories and case studies presented by investors, C-level utility executives, government officials, developers and international financiers, providing unparalleled opportunities for partnership building and deal making.
“It is a marathon, not a sprint”
Dolapo Kukoyi, a partner at Detail Commercial Solicitors in Lagos and head of the firm’s power practice, will chair a session on “Challenges to funding the power sector” at the Finance and Investment Forum. Her advice to prospective investors in the power sector: “speaking specifically to Nigeria; patience, credible partners and good advisers are critical for investing in the power sector in Nigeria. It is a marathon not a sprint. So far, the Government has shown its commitment though there is a lot that still needs to be done in sorting out the liquidity issues, which the distribution companies are likely to face in the next couple of years.”
Ms Kukoyi says the liquidity issues in the sector inhibit revenue certainty. She adds: “currently, the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trader and other government entities are not willing to provide the guarantees which investors would still require in the early days whilst liquidity issues of the distribution companies are being resolved. The NIPPs are a case in question whereby investors will need to be assured of a cost reflective tariff and revenue certainty. This remains a gap which will need to be deliberated between the Nigerian government, commercial banks, development finance institutions and private investors to come up with creative solutions.”
She continues: “another limitation that hinders the bankability of power projects is the untested operationalization of the sector industry agreements. The sector industry agreements had been executed pre-privatization with the incumbent management of the privatized PHCN generation and distribution companies. The contracts (Power Purchase Agreements, Vesting Contracts, Gas Supply Agreements and Gas Transportation Agreements) are however, neither effective nor operational. There is therefore no track record to show how the contracts actually work. This is crucial in order to achieve revenue certainty in the market for lenders and investors in the Distribution Companies and new on-grid generation projects.”
Attractive opportunities abound
Industry expert and CEO of Lavayo Energy, Lolu A. Adubifa, is chairing a session on major projects and financing trends during the Investment Forum: “I am hoping to have a robust discussion with the panel and the audience on some of the challenges of financing in Nigeria today, and would steps could be taken to mitigate some of these issues. For example, NBET (Bulk Trader) as the main government agency signing PPAs etc. is under-capitalized, and at great risk of default on PPA signed with counter parties.
He adds: “my message and central theme for investors at WAPIC is centred around the fact that the Nigerian power sector is slowly moving to a liberalized and private sector driven industry. Attractive opportunities abound in the generation and distribution spaces for companies and investors with skills, products and capital.
During the 12th edition of this long running, regional conference and expo, WAPIC will once again gather government, utilities, consultants and investors to discuss the challenges of local markets, capacity building and investment. Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Power has endorsed the event, taking place at the Eko Hotel in Lagos from 23-25 November.
West African Power Industry Awards
The second edition of the hugely successful West African Power Industry Awards gala dinner will also take place again during WAPIC when industry pioneers and projects will be recognised and celebrated in seven different categories.
Once again, WAPIC is enjoying overwhelming support from the industry with the global networking and telecommunications giant, Huawei, having already confirmed that it is returning as the exclusive diamond sponsor. Eko Electricity Distribution Company, MEMMCOL and Mojec International are platinum sponsors while Ecobank and Siemens are gold sponsors.
The WAPIC expo floor will showcase the latest technologies and services for the industry while the free technical workshop programme will offer practical solutions, lessons learnt from case studies and problem-solving mechanisms to assist power companies and utilities in improving their efficiency and productivity.