By Sam Hart
Geometric Power Ltd secured a 20-year concession from the Federal Government of Nigeria to supply power exclusively to the Aba industrial city and its surrounding communities and has constructed the Aba Integrated Power Project (“Aba IPP”). The Aba IPP is the first independent and integrated power utility in Nigeria, which comprises a 188 MW gas fired power plant, a 27km gas pipeline, and a distribution utility, within a ring-fenced distribution network. It is an embedded electricity facility designed to generate and distribute its own electricity. The 1st of its kind in Nigeria. The Project is presently owned by the Project Developer/Sponsor: Geometric Power Limited, Aba Power Limited, and other investors.
The Company has so far invested $530M (N200B) in the building of infrastructure till date.
However, just as it was on the verge of switching on its turbines, a complication arose. The Federal Government of Nigeria embarked on the unbundling of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the attendant privatization of its assets in 2014.
This led to the sale of the Enugu Distribution Company (Enugu Disco) to The Chief Emeka Offor-owned Interstate Electric Company Limited. The entire Abia State is part of Enugu Disco. Curiously, the Federal Government did not notify Interstate Electric of its existing licence to Geometric Power so a territorial quarrel ensued between the two companies with Geometric insisting that it has exclusive license to generate and distribute Electric Power in the entire Aba axis up to Ukwa and Interstate (Enugu Disco) saying it has no such document before it and as such, there were no restrictions on where it could distribute power and bill for it.
Geometric cried fowl and this quarrel stalled it’s roll-out for 4 years.
Finally, desirous of the best for his people, Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu stepped in to mediate in the quarrel. He convened countless meetings between the Interstate Team and the Geometric Team and finally approached the Federal Government with settlement suggestions. Several meetings were held at the Office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN and the Office of the Minister for Power, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN. Finally, after a marathon diplomatic interface, the issues were resolved and all parties shook hands across the table. Geometric was given the all-clear to generate and distribute power in the Aba ring-fenced area under an arrangement that also incorporates the assets and investments of Enugu Disco.
Because of time-lapse and delays, Geometrics needed additional funds to complete it’s overhaul of equipments that had become unserviceable during the interregnum and it was already heavily exposed.
Again, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu stepped in. He went with Prof. Bart Nnaji, the promoter of Geometric Power, to the Headquarters of the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM BANK) in Cairo, Egypt where the Governor made representations for funding on behalf of the company and gave a personal guarantee of returns on investment as Abians are ready to pay for steady and reliable power.
The Governor has also worked closely with Prof. Nnaji to attract new off takers for the generated power most recently, the Ruyi Group who he met in China last week and who he invited to come and partner with Geometric Power in their desire to invest in the Power sector of Nigeria. The team from Ruyi Group, led by their President, Mr. Liming Sun, were at the Geometric Power facility on Saturday, 28/04/18 to open discussionswith Geometric on terms of partnership.
I met with Prof Nnaji on Saturday, April 28, 2018 and I quote him verbatim.
“We are fully on course for our rollout. All impediments have been resolved. We have concluded discussions with AFREXIM Bank and we’re set for drawdown. The Governor has been a dependable bulwark on this journey and we’re immensely grateful to him for all his support. We are currently doing all we can to get back on stream and in the next couple of months, Abia will be the first State to experience 24hrs uninterrupted power supply”
More details will be provided as developments unfold.