Buhari seeks China’s support for Mambilla power project

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday asked for the support of the Chinese government towards the completion of the Mambilla Power Project in Taraba State.

He made the request during the signing of an agreement with President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the 74th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing.

The Mambilla project is Nigeria’s biggest and one of Africa’s leading dam projects.

It is a projected hydro power plant, which would be connected to three dams across Taraba’s Donga River.

Conceived in 1982, the main Mambilla dam is a large rolled compact concrete dam and reservoir 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) above sea level.

Water is diverted towards the western side of the plateau through three hydraulic tunnels totaling 33 kilometres and intercepted by two smaller dams (Sum Sum and Nghu), both at an elevation of 1,250 metres (4,100 ft).

The tunnels lead into a 1,000-metre (3,300 ft) drop shaft and then to a massive underground powerhouse with a generating capacity of 3,050 megawatts (MW).

“I would like to once again solicit your support for the Mambilla hydropower project, which remains a key priority for my government.

Our hope is to fund the project with concessionary loans from China, as any alternative funding arrangement will adversely impact the project’s viability.

“We have been informed that our submission on this project is undergoing assessment by the relevant Chinese agencies.

We hope, with your kind intervention, this assessment will be expedited.

Your Excellency, Mambilla is Nigeria’s equivalent of the Three Gorges Dam.

My wish is that you join me for the groundbreaking ceremony of this project in the not too distant future,” Buhari said.

He commended the host country for its support, stating: “In the past 24 months, the Chinese government has provided humanitarian aid to our conflict areas, scholarships to Nigerian youth, military training and security support to our personnel, agriculture modernisation training, and concession army loans to fund critical infrastructural projects.

These interventions have positively impacted on millions of Nigerians and will continue to do so for generations to come.”

The Chinese leader replied: “We understand how critical the project is to your country and we will take a serious look at it and ensure that it succeeds because of its social and economic benefits.”

President Xi commended Nigeria’s fight against terrorism, promising China’s support in capacity building and intelligence sharing.

He also pledged ¥50 million in support of Nigeria’s military, noting: “Buhari is as decisive in dealing with terrorism as China.”

He said China would import more agricultural products from Nigeria and expressed gratitude to Buhari on Nigeria’s interest in participating in the forthcoming Chinese Import Fair.

“The relationship between Nigeria and China is as best as ever, especially given the deepening mutual trust.

China will continue to stand with Nigeria,” Xi added.

The two countries signed a $328m loan deal for the Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II (NICTIB II) project.

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun and Wang Xiaotoa, Director-General, International Development Agency, signed the concessional agreement between Galaxy Backbone Limited and Huawei Technologies Limited (HUAWEI) in the presence of Buhari and Xi.

A Memorandum of Understanding for the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR) was also signed.

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama and He Lifeng, Director, China’s National Development and Reform Commission, signed the OBOR, an initiative of Xi, which focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among multiple countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.

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