Nigeria awards USD5.8 billion Mambilla power dam project to China’s CCECC

Africa’s largest economy bedeviled by power problems said it has awarded the construction of Mambilla hydroelectric plant to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, CCECC.

The 3,050 megawatt plant has been in the works but not executed for over 30 years. According to the federal minister of works, Babatunde Raji Fashola China’s Export-Import Bank will provide 85 percent of the funding and Nigeria’s government will supply the remaining 15 percent for the joint venture, Fashola said, adding that construction should take around six years.

“The scope of works is very extensive, it requires the construction of four dams,” he said.

“It will involve a lot of preparatory work (and) resettlement … It will also help Nigeria strike a very big blow on the climate change issue.”

The Mambilla Plateau is a plateau in the Taraba State of Nigeria. The plateau is Nigeria’s northern continuation of the Bamenda Highlands of Cameroon.

The Mambilla Plateau has an average elevation of about 1,600 metres (5,249 ft) above sea level, making it the highest plateau in Nigeria. Some of its villages are situated on hills that must be at least 1,828 metres (5,997 ft) high above sea level.

Some mountains on the plateau and around it are over 2,000 metres (6,562 ft) high, like the Chappal Waddi (more appropriate name: Gang) mountain which has an average height of about 2,419 metres (7,936 ft) above sea level. It is the highest mountain in Nigeria and the highest mountain in West Africa if Cameroon’s mountains, such as Mount Cameroon, are excluded.

The plateau developed on basement complex rocks.Tertiary basalts also occur on the Mambilla plateau and are mostly formed by trachytic lavas and extensive basalts, occurring around Nguroje.[4] The Mambilla Plateau measures about 96 km (60 mi) along its curved length; it is 40 km (25 mi) wide and is bounded by an escarpment that is about 900 m (2,953 ft) high in some places.[5] The plateau covers an area of over 9,389 square kilometres (3,625 sq mi). Mountain is found at the northeastern flank of the Plateau.

Environmental groups are raising concerns about the impact of the project on the immediate environment and its long term consequence.

International Rivers campaign group said on its official site that: “Many fear that Mambilla will go the way of previous large development projects (including large hydropower projects) where contracts are meted out but projects are never built,”

“If the Mambilla dam project does continue, it could mean disastrous environmental and social impacts for those already living in poverty along the banks of the Benue River,” the group said.

Nigeria’s major problem apart from corruption has been the lack of stable power. Many cottage and large manufacturers have either shuttle or relocated over the last four decades due to huge costs spent on generating sets and fuel used to power plants.