Prof. Barth Nnaji
Adelere Ajayi writes that in a country starved of reliable power supply, the imminent launching of the 140MW Aba power plant by Geometric Power Systems Limited (GPSL) is a model example worthy of emulation
Late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua laid the foundation stone for the construction of the 140 megawatts (MW) Aba power plant during the ground breaking ceremony held on November 1, 2007 at the plant site in Osisioma-Ngwa, Abia State.
The project according to its designs was expected to be commissioned in April 2009 but is yet to begin operation as deadlines were shifted to accommodate contingencies.
GPSL owned by former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, initiated and commenced construction of this model power plant in Aba with an intention to serve the industrial cluster within the Aba-Port Harcourt axis.
Most industries in this cluster have gone into extinction owing to poor power supply system of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and so initiating a model integrated power plant like the Aba plant was not only a thoughtful business decision, but a viable alternative to save the economy of the region from collapse.
Prior to initiating this project, GPSL had built and managed a 15MW emergency power project in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and should have expectedly garnered some valuable expertise that it would ordinarily bring to bear on its 140MW Aba plant.
Although, while its Chairman, Nnaji was appointed minister of power by President Goodluck Jonathan, work in the power plant by GPSL and its partners comprising of Group Five of South Africa, Pauwels/EMO Africa and ABB/GEC Power Lines did not stop. Nnaji has however returned to the company having recently resigned from his appointment.
With an average annual power supply of 20 per cent from its total demand, the quality and quantity of electricity supplied to Aba is barely enough to satisfy industries that are within its industrial cluster, these industries and other businesses had had to rely on privately generated power to run their machines and industrial equipment at very high costs, this is aside from other costs incurred by these businesses as a result of existing infrastructural deficits.
It is however expected that the strategically located power plant being built by Geometric will add to improve Aba’s record when computing Nigeria’s ease of doing business.
The location of the plant is convenient for this first industry-centered independent power plant considering the existence of gas pipeline networks to transport the needed gas, which will be used as fuel to power the plant, it also has the needed market to incentivise its operations; a large cluster of sustainable industries that need reliable electric power.
The multiplier effects of this is that several industries that have the capacity to expand but had been held back by high operational costs will upon the completion and operation of the plant, seek to expand their production capacities while the ones that had closed shop due to power supply challenges will most likely come back on stream to add to the economic growth of the region.
Managers of the integrated power project told journalists last week that the plant was designed to provide a model for the emergence of high reliability in power supply especially for the industrial sector. Expectedly, the project will further Nigeria’s economic growth and trade within the sub-Saharan African region.
The $500 million Aba power plant, which is scheduled for completion within the first quarter of 2013, will also serve commercial customers within its coverage.
Giving an update of progress of work so far, the project team comprising, the Project Manager Group Five of South Africa, Johan Riekert, Project Manager Pauwels/EMO Africa, Slobodan Bajkovic and Project Manager, ABB/GEC Power Lines, Joseph Otejere, said the first phase of the power project is nearing completion with the tightening up of all loose ends.
“This is an integrated power project because it has a power plant and distribution network where we also have sub-stations, power line as well as gas pipeline all embedded in the project. Phase one of the project has 140MW and phase two is 540MW which is to serve as additional unit to the existing one while the phase three is 100MW which will be come later,” they explained.
Aba has three sub-stations and adequate power supply could not be delivered to electricity users in the commercial city because of inadequate evacuation infrastructure. To ensure even distribution of power generated, the Aba power managers decided to build a new sub-station to complement the existing ones.
Also, the project managers introduced different type of pools, the latest being the still tubular pools of different sizes to ensure no network failure no matter the weather condition, this is aside the construction of a 27km pipeline close to Port Harcourt.