Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The federal government on Friday signed an agreement with a consortium of three Chinese companies to build the 3,050 megawatts Mambilla hydro power project located in Taraba State within six years.
The project which is expected to cost $5.79 billion would be funded by the Nigerian government and Chinese lenders through the China Exim Bank, on the ratio of 15 and 85 per cent respectively.
The firms include China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), Sinohydro Corporation Limited (SHC) and CGCOC Group Co. Limited.
Within the deal, the Chinese Exim Bank and other Chinese lenders are expected to provide $4.92 billion representing 85 per cent of the projectâ€™s cost while the federal government will put forward $868.87 million which represents the 15 per cent.
Also, the scope of work for the project includes four large dams – Nya, Sumsum, Nghu and Api Weir, two underground power house of 12 units of 250MW each, two numbers of 330kV of 700 kilometres transmission lines to Markudi and Jalingo, 120 kilometres of access roads connecting the project site and nearby communities and resettlement of an estimated 100,000 impacted persons.
On August 30, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved $5,792,497,062.00 for the project which has been in the making for over 40 years.
That approval thus paved the way for the signing of the contract document with the China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), Sinohydro Corporation Limited (SHC) and CGCOC Group Co. Limited, all considered a joint venture.
It also now allows the federal government to seek finance to meet its counterpart funding obligation to the project.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who signed on behalf of the Nigerian government, said the project would open a huge window of opportunity for Nigeria to harness its hydro potentials for electricity and irrigation purposes.
He commended government officials and the Chinese for making the project a reality, adding that when completed, the project would change the dynamics in Nigeriaâ€™s power sector.
Fashola said: â€œThe project is a new dawn for Nigeriaâ€™s power diversity and energy mix. It will give us the opportunity for energy security. It will also give us the opportunity to comply with our Paris Climate Change Agreement because it will be delivering renewable energy.
â€œIt will provide the opportunity to unlock the gift of nature to Nigeria in Taraba State, agriculture, energy, construction and development. You only need to see the number of applications we have already received from people who want to participate in the logistics.â€
He further said the project implementation would involve the ministries of environment, water resources, justice and finance, adding, â€œThis is going to be inter-ministerial undertaking.â€
For the Chinese companies, Yong Jun signed for CGGC, while Gan Yongzhi signed for Sinohydro and Ye Shuijiv signed for CGCOC Group.
The Mambilla hydro project is located in Sarduana Local Government Area of Taraba State. Its preliminary feasibility study was reportedly carried out by Moto Columbus in 1972.
Also, between 1981 and 1985, Diyam Consultants with Binnie and Partners UK carried out another preliminary study and recommended 3960 MW.
In 2011, the FEC equally awarded another consultancy services for detailed engineering design and project management and supervision to Messrs Coyne et Bellier/Decrwon/WADSCO JV Consultants to further review the two previous studies based on new hydrology and geology investigation.