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The story Manitoba Hydro doesn't want you to read


Ladies, leave the room.
Now, what's the dirtiest word you'll ever hear in the offices of Manitoba Hydro?

Right.

Privatization.

So what is Manitoba Hydro doing helping to privatize the entire electrical system of another country? You read that right --- country.

The answer is another dirty word --- money.

Nigeria's power system is a total disaster. The country is Africa's most populous nation with 160 million people and is Africa's second largest economy. But it only provides enough electricity, as one newspaper described it, to power a medium-sized European city.

Two years ago Nigeria's president announced a multi-billion dollar plan to privatize the country's power infrastructure to boost production of electricity. Manitoba Hydro was hired this year to make sure the power that is produced gets to substations where it can be distributed to individuals and companies. In other words, to make Nigeria's power system attractive enough to buy into.

Nigeria has divided the job into three sections: generation, transmission and distribution. Manitoba Hydro beat out the Power Grid of India to manage the transmission network, which will still be owned by the government. The next step, once Hydro does its job, will be to privatize six power generation plants and 11 distribution firms.

The management contract is worth $24 million to Manitoba Hydro. There was a small hiccup when the contract was cancelled on allegations of irregularities in the awarding process, then reinstated with apologies.

Manitoba's governing NDP can only hope Hydro doesn't get a taste for privatization.

We only hope Nigeria will stop sending us emails asking for money.

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