The absence of an allocation for the Mambilla Hydro-Power plant project in Gembu, Taraba State, in the 2024 budget has been clarified by the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu. The $5.8 billion project has the capacity to generate more than 3,050 Megawatts (MW) of electricity, as reported by Daily Trust.
Adelabu, speaking at the 2024 budget defense session organized by the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Power, explained that the project is currently undergoing arbitration. This legal process has hindered the federal government from advancing the project. He emphasized that the deliberate exclusion of any provision in the budget for Mambilla is due to the ongoing arbitration, stating, “Until it is resolved, we can’t do anything about it.”
The Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited (SPTCL) initiated legal action against the Nigerian government on October 10, 2017, taking the matter to the International Court of Arbitration administered by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris, France.
The dispute revolves around a 2003 agreement to construct the 3,050MW plant in Mambilla, Taraba state, on a “build, operate, and transfer” basis for $6 billion. The federal government contended that the contract award was irregular and lacked due process.
Adelabu, however, highlighted progress in the Zungeru Hydro Power Project in Niger State, which is at 99.8% completion. He expressed plans to commence operation and evacuation to the national grid this year once concessionary fees are paid.
The minister underscored that the primary challenge in the power sector lies in distribution rather than generation. He attributed the substantial loss of generated power during distribution to poor infrastructure, emphasizing the need for significant investment in upgrading the facilities of existing power distribution companies. Adelabu reiterated his call for the unbundling of distribution companies, advocating for closer state monitoring and involvement in power distribution. Additionally, he suggested that states play a role in securing the right of way for transmission lines.