When Will Buhari Break Ground On Africa’s Largest Hydro Power Project?

By Mayowa Michael Adeleye, Canada

When Will Mambilla dam in Taraba see the light of the day?

After over 33 years in the making, President Buhari administrator is yet to announce when the Government will perform the ground breaking ceremony for the 3050 megawatts Mambilla Hydro Dam.

In 2014 under the President Jonathan’s administration, the officials of the Ministry of Power disclosed that all designs of the Mambilla major hydro dam project were all completed, and till now, work is yet to commence at the dam site in Mambilla, Taraba State and no official groundbreaking ceremony has taken place so far!

If ever completed, Mambilla dam will be the largest in hydro power project Africa that will provide increased electricity generation to the national grid in Nigeria as well as irrigation to the people of Taraba and environs.

Although China Government only expected 15% downpayment (counterpart funding portion) from Nigeria Federal Government to secure 85% China Government infrastructural loan finance from Chinese EXIM Bank, but administrations after administrations, Federal Government of Nigeria have FAILED to come up with the counterpart fund portion.

Work cannot commence on the Mambilla Hydrodam site without the FG approval and payment of the 15% counterpart funds. Even under Jonathan led government, the excuse was no money to pay the counterpart payment thus funding hindrances on the part of Nigeria halted the commencement of the project.

The hydroelectric project construction by federal government is within its long-term development plan for Nigeria’s power sector include the 3,050MW Mambilla hydroelectric plant located in Taraba State to be built at the sum of about $3.2 billion (figure as at 2014) by China Gezhouba Group Company and SynoHydro.

For Mambilla, it is expected to be undertaken on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) concession agreement with counterpart contribution of 15%. The Exim Bank of China will provide outstanding 85% funding required to construct the power project which is also expected to yield returns for repayment of the concessionary loan.

When completed, Mambilla will become the largest single hydro power project in the country. The proposed contracting structure for Mambilla stipulates that Messrs SinoHydro will cover 70 per cent of the project while Messrs CGGC Limited (China Gezhouba Group Company) covers 30 percent of the project scope.

The award for the Mambilla hydroelectric power project had faced some hiccups over the past years with project having been in the drawing board for over 30 years.

Part of the contract was earlier awarded to a Chinese firm but later cancelled and another Chinese consortium close to people in government is trying to influence the power ministry to handover the whole project on a turnkey basis to their company without a tender.

Nigerians are wondering due to the funding delay, why can’t Buhari led Nigeria government explore a loan source for the 15% from other source like Africa Development Bank (AfDB) to fast track the construction as the 85% funding from China is already domiciled with the China Export Import (EXIM) Bank?

Mayowa Michael Adeleye writes from Canada