Nigeria has received strong interest in six power stations and 11 electricity distribution firms being offered as part of a power privatization plan.
Accoring to Reuters, the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), the country's privatisation agency, said it had received 174 expressions of interest for the four thermal and two hydro power stations, and 157 for the 11 distribution firms.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who faces an election in April, has made ending chronic power shortages in Africa's most populous nation one of the cornerstones of his campaign and his administration is keen to show progress with the plans.
"Successful bidders will be responsible for operating the distribution companies, making the necessary investments to improve the distribution network and customer service in line with (government) objectives," the BPE said in a statement.
Blackouts are a brake on growth in sub-Saharan Africa's second-biggest economy and the potential returns for investors in the country of 150m people are huge. Utilities and engineering firms from Europe, North America, India and China are among those to have attended roadshows in Dubai, London, New York and Johannesburg this year.
However, securing expressions of interest is the easy part. Some industry executives have said they are reluctant to make final commitments with elections looming and until they see that Nigeria is able to implement a solid regulatory framework to govern the sector.
Nigeria estimates it will need $10bn a year of investment over the next decade to meet its energy needs. Power generation and distribution will be privatized under the plans, unveiled by President Jonathan last August. Government will continue to own the national grid but its management will be privatized.
The 11 distribution companies up for grabs are in the capital Abuja in central Nigeria, the cities of Benin, Enugu, Eko, Ibadan, Ikeja, and Port Harcourt in the south and those of Jos, Kaduna, Kano, and Yola in the north.
The thermal power stations are Ughelli Power Plc, in Delta state in the southern Niger Delta oil region, and Geregu Power Plc in Kogi state in north-central Nigeria.
The hydro power companies, for which concessionaires are sought, are Kainji Power Plc, comprising power stations in Niger and Kwara states in north-central Nigeria, and Shiroro Power Plc, also in Niger state.
For more business news, click