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Re: Intrigues delay Nigerian biggest hydro protect

The Ministry is in agreement that the Mambilla project has been on the drawing board for about 30 years. This, however, is not unexpected for…

The Ministry is in agreement that the Mambilla project has been on the drawing board for about 30 years. This, however, is not unexpected for hydro projects of this complexity, scope and size. 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. It is noteworthy that in most cases, these processes could take up to 20-50 years to complete considering hydrology, basic socio-economic data and environmental issues. This could be said to be, to a large extent, the experience of every single large dam project in the world.
In the case of Mambila, the project has been designed from its initial capacity of 2,600MW to the present 3,050MW installed capacity. The increase in the installed capacity was achieved by relocating the original Gembu Dam to about 20km downstream to create a new Nya Dam thereby enlarging the catchment area and providing more water for irrigation and power generation.
Other design considerations included positioning the reservoir areas and dam axes with a view to minimising the impact of the project on the existing communities. This involved the reconfiguration of the tunnel, power house and dam reservoir as well as appurtenant works. In addition, the essence of the new enlarged design of the dam is to take advantage of the hydrological benefits of the project to include irrigation and agricultural farmland development towards boosting agricultural production and soli-sufficiency for the nation.
In this regard, significant economic benefits have been incorporated to the original design of this project including about 20,000 hectares of farmland over the design review period. This is expected to enhance the agricultural value chain in the Benue -Taraba corridor and generate significant employment opportunities thereby mitigating the security challenge of the area. The design review also included the provision of more corridors for the evacuation of power to major load centres across the country. Contrary to your publication, the Ministry wish to state the scope of works for Lahmeyer International was to prepare a Bankable Feasibility Report and the assignment has since been concluded while Messrs Coyne et Bellier, a division of Tracterbel Engineering was engaged by the Ministry for the detailed Engineering Design and Project Management of the Mambilla Hydroelectric power project. The completion of the detailed engineering work prior to award of contract is consistent with the Federal Government policy of ensuring that the risk of variation to contracts prices are minimised. The detailed Engineering Design has since been completed while the Project Management component will kick off upon the eventual award of contract by the Federal Executive Council.
The Ministry further wishes to clarify that there is no substance in the statement in your article that a $3.2 billion (N580 billion) contract has been awarded in favour of a Chinese consortium for the Mambilla project with a sharing ratio of 70/30. On the contrary, the Ministry is currently working on firming the project cost and the contracting parties in compliance with all the necessary guidelines of the Public Procurement Act. On a very positive note, we are pleased to acknowledge the support of the National Economic Council in providing the necessary counterpart funding for the project as part of the reinvestment of the proceeds of the sale of NDPHC generation assets.
With respect to possible commencement of construction, most of the ongoing discussion is with Chinese EPC firms, most of which have repeatedly shown interest in providing funding for the project. Therefore, rather than the project being stalled, substantial progress has been made in negotiations with these Chinese companies. The firms under consideration by the Ministry have undertaken similar large hydropower projects in other countries all over the world with resounding successes.
We therefore wish to assure your newspaper and the general public that the Federal Government is committed to the development of the Mambila Hydroelectric power project and for the first time in 30 years, there is concerted effort and a holistic development strategy for actualising this landmark project. On completion of the current processes, the Ministry would ensure that Nigeria has full value for money without compromising environmental safeguards, standards and international best practices.
In conclusion, we wish to implore on your newspaper to be at liberty to reach us for clarification on any issue in the power sector as the need arises.
Please accept the assurances of the best wishes of the Honourable Minister and my humble self.

Ambassador Igali, OON, FNAH, is Perma-nent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power.

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