Jonathan to break ground on Africa’s largest hydro power project

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

28 September 2014, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – After more than 30 years in the making, President Goodluck Jonathan is set to perform the ground breaking ceremony for the 3050 megawatts Mambilla Hydro Dam, which is said to be the largest hydro power project in the continent.

President Goodluck JonathanOfficials of the Ministry of Power who disclosed this information to
Sweetcrude explained that all designs of the major hydro project have been completed, adding that logistics are in place for work to resume at the dam site in Taraba State after the official groundbreaking ceremony which is expected to take place in the coming days.

A statement issued by the Ministry in Abuja, noted that the project, described as the largest in hydro power project Africa will provide increased electricity generation to the national grid as well as irrigation to the people of Taraba and environs when completed.

It assured Nigerians the official groundbreaking by President Goodluck Jonathan is in keeping his transformation agenda, as well as his promise to ensure that power is provided to every part of the country.

The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo recently disclosed that the National Economic Council (NEC) had approved a total of $1.72 billion as part of Nigeria’s counterpart funding for the construction of three major hydroelectric power stations in the country.

The Minister noted that with the approval, initial work at the project sites would now commence without funding hindrances on the part of Nigeria.

The hydroelectric projects earmarked for construction by the government within its long-term development plan for Nigeria’s power sector include the 3050MW Mambilla hydroelectric plant located in Taraba State to be built at the sum of about $3.2 billion by China Gezhouba Group Company and SynoHydro, the 700MW Zungeru plant to be constructed at a project sum of N162.9 billion by Chinese consortium of SynoHydro and China National Electrical Engineering Corporation (CNEEC), and the Gurara II dam, which will gulp about N37 billion.

For Mambilla and Zungeru, they are expected to be undertaken on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) concession agreement with counterpart contributions of 15 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. The Exim Bank of China will provide outstanding funding percentages required to construct the power projects which are also expected to yield returns for repayment of the concessionary loans.

When completed, Mambilla will become the largest single hydro power project in the country; the proposed contracting structure for Mambilla stipulates that Messrs SinoHydro will cover 70 per cent of the project while Messrs CGGC Limited (China Gezhouba Group Company) covers 30 percent of the project scope.

According to Nebo, the design and funding mechanism for all the major hydro power schemes were now in place. “Today, we have in place not just the designs but the funding mechanism of all the major hydro schemes in the country. With the recent approval of $1.72 billion counterpart funding for the sector by the National Economic Council, not just Zungeru, but Mambilla dam in Taraba and Gurara II dam in Suleja, Niger State will all soon see the light of the day,” Nebo said.

The award for the Mambilla hydroelectric power project had faced some hiccups over the past years with project having been in the drawing board for over 30 years.

Part of the contract was earlier awarded to a Chinese firm but later cancelled and another Chinese consortium close to people in government is trying to influence the power ministry to handover the whole project on a turnkey basis to their company without a tender.

The Ministry noted that the very long period the project had been in abeyance was to be expected due to the scope, size and complexity of the hydro project.

“This is very well in accordance with the project development process of such projects and in line with International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) standards on construction of large dams prescribing a requirement for detailed study and re-study, design and redesign of large dam projects until optimal efficiency levels are attained.”

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