The Mambilla Hydro Power Project may not experience further progress if left unattended to by stakeholders. In limbo for over 40 years, the $5.8bn 3,050MW hydroelectric power plant in Taraba State which was supposed to be the largest power-generating installation in Nigeria, has been facing challenges.
The ongoing legal battle with a former contractor of the project, Sunrise Power and Transmission Company, has continued to encumber further development of the plant.
After 35 years of existing only on paper, China’s Gezhouba Group was awarded a contract to develop the project with 2,600MW installed capacity in 2007.
Before any progress could be recorded, Sunrise Power had accused the Nigerian government of breaching its 2003 agreement when it granted a separate contract to Chinese companies four years after they were contracted for the plant construction.
The transmission company requested an arbitration award of $2.3 billion which then caused the Export-Import Bank of China to pause its interest in financing the Mambilla Plant.
The project suffered administrative bottlenecks until 2016, when it received government approval. Accordingly, the federal government in 2017 approved the construction of the project by a Chinese firm.
Under the agreement, China’s Export-Import Bank was expected to provide 85 per cent in debt financing, while the Nigerian government was expected to provide the remaining 15 per cent.
Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, in whose domain the project is sited, recently cried out that the government was not giving the Mambilla power project the serious attention it deserved.
Ishaku alleged that the project received zero allocation in the 2021 budget.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Power and former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam recently expressed similar disappointment over the way the power project was being handled.
“The story of the Mambilla Power Project is a sad one. Governments in and out and have paid lip service to the Mambilla Power Project. This administration said so much about the project, but six years down the line, it’s still lip service that has been paid to the issue of the Mambilla Power Project.”
An energy expert and government official, who is privy to the details of the Mambilla Power Project, confided in me that there are some complications, legal and financial, that the minister of power is leading the resolution on. However, in the interim there are some pre-works going on that will allow continued work once those issues are resolved.