Electricity: Two years after its announced restructuring, the CEB now moves towards its dissolution

Thursday, 01 April 2021 14:26
Electricity: Two years after its announced restructuring, the CEB now moves towards its dissolution

The High Inter-State Council proposes to the Heads of State the dissolution of the Communauté Électrique du Bénin (CEB). The chairmen of the High Inter-State Council of the CEB are responsible, each in his or her area of responsibility, for implementing this decision, which takes effect from the date of its signature.”

The decision was taken last week’s ending, during the 105th session of the CEB. The related agreement was signed by the Togolese and Beninese ministers of Energy and Mines, respectively Mila Aziable and Dona Jean-Claude Houssou. 

Unpaid bills

For over half a century, the CEB marked the two neighbors' power industry. Finally, however, it appears to have suffered many months of troubles - economic notably - including accumulated debts to Nigeria, one of its suppliers. The situation led Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, to threaten, repeatedly, to cut power supply to Togo, Benin, and Niger, if these countries did not pay the $16 million they owed his country. At the time, the Nigerian leader had said that power supply is not charity.

Out of the amount owed, Togo, until 2020, was the only country to have cleared part of its debt. Lomé indeed made a payment of N1.51 billion (CFA2.16 billion) to Nigeria, according to a report recently released by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and covering the second quarter of 2020. 

Ultimately, it is up to the heads of state of Togo and Benin, Faure Gnassingbé and Patrice Talon, or his eventual successor, to endorse and seal the acts of their representatives in the Interstate Council, which heralds a scheduled dissolution of the joint institution responsible for producing and transporting energy in both countries. According to some experts, this denouement should not be shocking considering recent events the CEB recorded. 

A predictable turn of events

Indeed, even before the dissolution was announced, the two nations had started, since January 1, 2019, independently importing the energy they need. Before that, it was the CEB that was tasked with ensuring the production and transport of electricity for Benin and Togo and the two States had committed not to sign any deal separately. 

In the wake of these events, the corporate purpose of the CEB was amended, turning the joint entity into a “power transmission system operator with the charge of continuing to operate the Nangbeto dam and the two gas turbines installed in the two countries.”

It has been placed under provisional administration. “A transitional management will be put in place from January 1, 2019,” the two countries had announced. 

Séna Akoda

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