The establishment of transformer production plant will not only put paid to frequent power outages but also boost the nation’s industrialization dream, writes SUNDAY ODE.
Come September, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to perform the ground breaking ceremony of first class transformer plant in Nigeria. The project is being powered by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC).
First of its kind in Nigeria and second in Africa, this ambitious project is expected to address the perennial problem of epileptic power supply in the country; in line with the industrialization agenda of the Federal Government.
This news will, no doubt, be a great delight to Nigerians given the fact that electricity power supply has remained a teething problem in the country in the past three decades, with successive administrations promising to address it but to no avail.
So endemic is the situation that promises to boost electricity supply has topped the agenda of presidential campaigns since the return to democracy in 1999. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had, through his Power Minister, Bola Ige, promised to address the knotty issue in six months; but by the end of his two terms of four years each, no solution was in sight. The supposed magic wand failed.
However, that administration can best be remembered for spending a whopping 16 billion US dollars on power infrastructure contracts with scanty or no commensurate results.
Angered by that development, the House of Representatives through its committee on power instituted a probe into how the whopping 16 billion US dollars was spent. The committee headed by Ndudi Elumelu embarked on a fact-finding mission, touring all the projects sites where the humongous sum was said to have been spend and came out with startlingrevelations of corrupt practices in the award and implemention of the contracts. Their report sent the nation into a frenzy.
More than a decade down the line, however, Nigeria has not moved significantly away from that circle of electricity supply stagnation. The country currently depends on a mere 5000 megawatts for all its power needs. Frequent collapse of the national grid coupled with poor distribution network has worsened the situation over time.
But like the saying that where there’s a will, there’s a way, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has shown willingness to turn the tide of electricity supply in the country through huge investments in power infrastructure across the country. One of the most significant steps being taken by government in that regard currently is the establishment of first class transformer production plant.
Experts have posited that three major projects must necessarily be put in place before any nation can boast of steady power supply. These, according to them are, solar cell production plant, high voltage testing laboratory and transformer production line. And that is to say that all along, Nigeria’s leaders have been groping in the dark and making empty boasts about steady power supply for the citizens.
In a pragmatic demonstration of that will by government, a visit to Nigeria and official meeting with the management of NASENI by the Chinese team took place recently in Abuja. Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna said the visit was aimed at putting finishing touches to the agreement in order to meet the September 2022 deadline for the commencement of work on the project as directed by President Buhari, who doubles as the chairman of the governing board of the agency.
Appearing as a guest at the weekly briefing by MDAs, packaged by the Presidential Communication Team recently, Prof Haruna said the agreement was first signed in 2013 between the Federal Government and People’s Republic of China, but due to some technicalities, the project could not take off.
He disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had given a fresh directive concerning the three projects which, according to him, must take off next month.
The NASENI boss also disclosed that more than 50% of the 15 percent counterpart fund to be paid by the Federal Government on the establishment of transformer plant in Nigeria has been fulfilled and the ground-breaking and foundation laying ceremony of the project will be done by Mr. President in September,2022. He said this particular round of visit by the Chinese technical partner to Nigeria was to ensure that all the finishing touches on the commencement of construction work about the projects was done with for effective take-off in September.
According to Prof. Haruna, for any nation to offer permanent solutions to the issue of power supply, it must have its own high voltage testing laboratory, which, he said, is what this project is expected to achieve for Nigeria. He added: “NASENI had already trained since 2019 about 60 Engineers in these areas to ensure that when the plant effectively takes off, it will be the best and will be run by trained Nigerian engineers and scientists.
“For any nation to have steady power supply, it must have these three important projects, Solar cell production plant, high voltage testing laboratory and transformer production line. You cannot have a permanent and steady power supply when you import all the components of electricity as currently obtained in Nigeria”, he said.
NASENI, he said, is deliberately driving the project now in line with its mandate to provide capital goods and equipment including machinery in order to offer a solid foundation for the industrial development of the country.
“We are in this for the purpose of ensuring that Nigeria becomes one of the countries in the world with steady power supply which is an essential foundation for a genuine industrialization dream by the country” he noted.
Prof. Haruna also announced that 98 NASENI engineers will soon be trained on Solar Cell Modular production in China. “The Engineers will leave by September this year. If we have the Solar Cell production plant in Nigeria, we will have steady light and even transmit to other African countries. The benefits of having local Solar Cell Manufacturing plant in the country are enormous.”
Chairman of Chinese Liaoning Huaye Group Development Ltd, Anshan, Ma Liming disclosed during the working visit to NASENI that Nigeria and China had a long lasting relationship which led to the signing of the agreement on building of the first transformer manufacturing plant in Nigeria. He said the partnership also resulted in the training of Sixty (60) NASENI Engineers on Transformer Production Line and High voltage Testing Laboratory Plant.
The third component of the project is the establishment of a solar cell manufacturing plant in Nigeria aimed at popularizing renewable energy in the country. And when that is achieved, Nigerians will heave a sigh of relief from the long night that poor power supply has orchestrated.
“NASENI and China would continue to work together to ensure the attainment of the industrialization agenda of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which the three projects have as targets to be kick-started with the building of a first class Transformer Plant in Africa which will be located in Nigeria.
“We will work together as good partners to ensure that Nigeria has the best transformer plant in Africa”, the Chinese partner said.