BusinessDay

GEP holds maiden workshop series

The law firm of George Etomi & Partners (GEPLAW) held its maiden GEPLAW Focus Workshop series on the 15th of March, at the firm’s newly launched seminar room at its Lagos office located in Parkview Estate, Ikoyi.

The workshop which had two sessions was dedicated to “Attracting investment into the Nigerian infrastructure space: Overcoming Legal and Regulatory Bottlenecks in attaining project bankability”; and “Enhancing the Growth of Digital Payment Solutions in Nigeria to unlock Entrepreneurship potential: Legal and Regulatory Signposts for Stakeholders.”

The first session, which was the Infrastructure session had Nigeria’s power sector as a case study and featured talks on viable solutions to challenges plaguing the power sector as well as a panel discussion by expert analysts and investors in the sector. The session kicked off with an introductory remark by GEPLAW Principal Partner, Mr George Etomi who highlighted the various roles the firm had played in the privatisation of the power sector and ongoing efforts to drive further growth of the sector by addressing the bottlenecks impeding the free flow of investment into the sector.

President of the Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) and Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Oil Limited, Engr. Dada Thomas in his remarks discussed the processes involved in commercialising gas reserves for power projects and the commercial issues that gas producers have to deal with in the course of supplying gas to power plants, a number of them arising from Nigeria’s monetary policies and regulations that invariably occasion commercial losses.

Chairman of Dubri Oil Company Limited, Rt Hon Uduimo Itsueli spoke on the commercialisation of gas reserves for supply to power off-takers and the need for review of federal government’s policies to attract investment for such projects that may help cut down on gas flaring as well as guarantee returns on investment.

A panel comprising Pedro Omontuemhen, the Power & Utilities Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC); Yetunde Odedokun, an energy infrastructure specialist at FBNQuest Merchant Bank; Jubril Kareem, an energy research analyst at Ecobank; Kofo Olawoyin; Head, Legal Advisory and Contracts at Eko Electricity Distribution PLC; and Ivie Ehanmo, GEPLAW Energy & Infrastructure Partner, subsequently discussed the bankability of power projects in Nigeria. The session was moderated by Akinola Ogunshakin, a GEPLAW Associate.

Some of the issues considered include conditions precedent for financing decision, the indices used in evaluating bankability, initiatives being considered by players in the various segments of the power sector value chain to de-risk investment in their segments, effective contractual structures that need to be in place to attain project bankability, the necessity of cost-reflective tariffs, the potential impact of the new Meter Asset Provider (MAP) Regulations issued by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and the role of the public in addressing electricity theft.

Distinguished members of the audience such as Victor Eromosele, CEO ME Consulting, and Chudi Onwuyirigbo, Director of Power/Engineering of Banner Energy Limited, also made important contributions to the conversation.

The second session focused on Financial Technology (FinTech), had resource persons drawn from Nigeria’s digital payments ecosystem: Jay Alabraba of Pagatech, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji of Flutterwave, Kemdi Ebi of Enter5ive and Taiwo Otiti, General Manager of Central Securities and Clearing System (CSCS) Limited. They were joined on the panel by Femi Fadahunsi, GEPLAW ICT & Finance Partner while GEPLAW Associate, Tobi Adebowale moderated the session. Joshua Chibueze of Piggybank also shared some valuable insights while making a comment on the importance of identity management as an essential consideration for FinTech stakeholders.

The FinTech session discussed issues bordering on data privacy, data protection, security of online transactions, public enlightenment, capacity building, government support for stakeholders and attracting investment into the sector as well as the need for the sustained enhancement of the regulatory framework governing the sector.

Commenting on the success of the event, Fadahunsi expressed the firm’s commitment to continuously engaging public and private sector stakeholders in various sectors of the economy as part of GEPLAW’s contribution to national development.