‘China Will Not Push EximBank to Fund 3050MW Mambilla Power Plant’

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Ambassador Zhou Pingjian

China’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian, has told the federal government that the government of his country will not push the China Exim Bank to expedite the process of its funding of Nigeria’s construction of the 3050 megawatts (MW) Mambilla hydro power plant located in Taraba state.

Pingjian, while playing host to the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman; Minister of State for Power, Jedi Goddy-Agba, and the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, explained that his government would at best impress it on the China Exim Bank to meet its obligations in this regard.

A statement from the ministry of power, stated that the three ministers met with Pingjian, where they reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to actualising the Mambilla power project which was initiated some 40 years ago.

In 2017, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) announced its approval of contract for the engineering work of the Mambilla plant in the sum of $5.792 billion. Nigeria is however reportedly expected to fund the project cost by 15 per cent.

The ministers according to the statement however described the Mambilla project as one of the legacy projects of President Muhammadu Buhari which must be executed during his current tenure.
They thus reportedly requested the Chinese embassy to impress on the China Exim Bank to expedite action on the release of the project loan for the commencement of work.

The statement noted that Adamu, in particular said the environmental impact assessment exercise on the project was being carried out while a memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Taraba state government for the payment of compensation to owners of land at the project site.

On the release of an interim fund of $200 million by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Adamu assured that the ministry of justice was already working on a comfort letter to the China Exim Bank as part of the government’s commitment to the project.

He equally assured that although an arbitration was still ongoing with a previous investor on the project, the government was ready to indemnify any funds agreed after the arbitration without affecting the loan agreement with the China Exim Bank.

Mamman, equally told Pingjian that the Chinese government had nothing to fear as regards Nigeria’s commitment to the project.

He noted that the federal government was working to remove any impediment which could pose any threat to the delivery of the project, adding that the Chinese government had enough influence to ask its Exim Bank to hasten the process of the loan disbursement.

But in his response, Pingjian who reportedly stated that his country does not encourage superfluous projects, advised the ministers to encourage the direct participation of the Chinese government or companies in some of its projects to reduce borrowing and facilitate easier execution of projects.

He also said the Exim Bank had invested over $2.6 billion in various projects in Nigeria, including the Abuja greater water project, airport expansion and the Abuja-Lafiya-Makurdi highway project, noting that although the Chinese government would not push the Exim Bank but would try its best to impress on it to meet its commitments (to the project).