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Nigeria: Hydroelectric Power Deal - Hoax or Honour?

Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the individual author. All rights are reserved to the original authors of the materials consulted, which are identified in the footnotes below.

The Nigerian nation is largely known to possess huge rivers and natural falls. The rich hydropower potential of Nigeria derives from the Rivers Niger and Benue as well as the Lake Chad basin which has an estimated 1,800 m3 per capita year of renewable water resources available. However, Nigeria is ranked economically as a water-scarce country as a result of a lack in investment and management to meet the demand of its citizens despite not being a water poor country.[1]

Image Source: Punch NG Online

In 2017, Nigeria’s installed hydropower capacity was stated at 2,062 MW with a hydropower generation of 7,310 GWh. The country has envisioned growing its economy rate to be among the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020 and in order to meet this growth target, the government has targeted hydropower development for 6,156 MW and 12,801 MW by 2030.[2] The current electrical situation in the country has not seemed to have improved, nevertheless as 40%[3] of Nigerians do not have access to regular and stable power supply while the remaining 60 % who do have access to power supply are consistently met with power outages[4] are left to purchase an alternative source of power, either using solar panels or generators. There are between 22 million and 60 million users of generators domestically asides its by businesses, and companies alike.

The current Minister of Power, Sale Mamman has recently signed a deal which would aid the speedy construction of the Mambilla Power project in Niger State. In an interview in Abuja, he said, ‘We have overcome the major problem stopping this project and it is nearly over’. The Mambilla project was conceived about 40 years ago in 1970 and quite appalling that a legal tussle affected its development and is set to become the second-largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa after the only bigger hydro power facility in Africa; Ethiopia’s 6,000 megawatt Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The Ethiopian Dam project started in 2011 and is now more than five years behind its completed date. The Mambilla project is set to produce 3,050 megawatts of electricity which is about a quarter of Nigeria’s current installed capacity. The highly ambition dream of getting to 6,156 megawatts still begs the question on how that would be attained in a space of 10 months. Other hydroelectric plants in Nigeria like the Kainji Power Station took 5 years before it was completed, and it only produces 800 megawatts[5].

The inter-ministerial steering committee and project delivery committee was approved by the President, Muhammadu Buhari last month and with the responsibility to ensure the speedy take-off of the project. Nigeria currently has 13,000 megawatts of installed electricity production capacity with about 80% of them coming from gas-fired plants. However, only about 7,500 megawatts of that figure are available with just 4,000 megawatts dispatched to the national grid every day.[6]

The nation has been assured that The Mambilla hydropower project will be a huge boost towards solving the nation’s energy crises and we certainly hope to see a huge improvement in Nigeria’s economical and power status in Africa and the world as large.

Rachael Wanogho

Feature Writer



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