The government of Nigeria has announced the award of a $5.8 billion contract to build what will be the largest power plant in the country.
The 3,050-megawatt Mambila hydroelectric power project in the state of Taraba will be delivered by a consortium of Chinese state-owned construction firms.
The megaproject will feature four dams between 50 and 150 meters tall, and take six years to complete, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, told reporters in Abuja.
The Chinese Export-Import Bank will finance 85% of the development, with the Nigerian government contributing 15%.
Minister Fashola claimed the project will deliver far-reaching benefits.
“(Mambila) will have a transformational effect on all of Nigeria’s socio-economic development,” he said through a government spokesman, “It will have considerable positive impact on electricity supply nationwide, productivity, employment, tourism, technology transfer, rural development, irrigation, agriculture and food production.”
The Mambila hydropower plant has been in development for over 30 years, but previous administrations have made little progress.
In 2007, the Nigerian government awarded a $1.4 billion contract to two Chinese construction firms for a 2,600-megawatt plant, but the agreement broke down soon after.
Attempts were made to revive the deal without success. But the deadlock was broken by conversations between the presidents of China and Nigeria in 2016, according to the spokesman of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The major breakthrough in the execution of this project was achieved when President Muhammadu Buhari initiated discussions at the level of the President of the Peoples Republic of China in the course of his State Visit (in 2016),” wrote government official Garba Shehu.
The meeting resulted in the creation of a consortium of Chinese companies to deliver the project, according to Shehu, and an agreement that the Chinese government would commit finance to it.