The importance of the Mambilla hydropower project both short and long term cannot be overemphasised especially during very tough economic times locally, regionally and globally.
President Muhammadu Buhari and APC led government have often bragged about their strength and progress made in the area of infrastructure with very little resources. With so many promises and legal and financial settlement agreements towards the commencement of this project, till date, nothing tangible can be said to be going on with less than 400 days to the end of the PMB administration.
Having signed yet a productive contract-deal with the Chinese, the government has not met all its contractual obligations; basic administrative bottlenecks to ensure effective supervision and monitoring of the project and strict adherence to the delivery timelines still resurrect itself as a major hindrance to a project, which guarantees 50,000 skilled jobs, 3,050 MGWs of hydro powered electricity, short and long term economic spillover in the north east region and for the collective growth of the nation.
The President, Minister of Justice, Minister of Power and National Assembly should undertake effective oversight to achieve delivery of this project and end Nigeria’s power deficit agony.
Hydropower is predicted by the International Energy Administration to become the “dominant source of flexible electricity by 2050.” With its many rivers, the International Renewable Energy Association recommends that Nigeria invests right to become a major exporter of electricity in West and Central Africa. Angola is gaining a head start with over 3,000MW in hydropower installed.
Getting the concessions right for the Gurara, Tiga, Oyan, Challawa Dams will be crucial.
Meanwhile, the World Bank calculates that the country loses $28 billion or 2.0 per cent of its GDP annually due to power shortages. Currently, the total national installed power generating capacity is 12,522MW with just over 6,000MW output realisable; only an average of 4,000MW is supplied to Africa’s largest economy and population. Of the total, only 2,062MW is hydropower, coming mainly from Jebba, Shiroro and Kainji.
Nigeria is the country with the world’s largest access to electricity deficit despite trillions of naira and multibillion-dollar debts piled up for coming generations. Wisdom demands that competent private sector investment should take the lead in closing the deficit. The government should therefore open up the sector; fine-tune the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act to attract global private power sector giants to invest in renewable energy like hydro, solar, wind and waste. Would President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR fulfill his promise to the North East and Nigeria in yet another milestone infrastructural project or would the Mambila hydro go down as another white paper sham?
Ibrahim Mustapha Pambegua, Kaduna State