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Kudos to Uncle Jona on the Hydroelecric Power Project

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

By Emmanuel Arinze

As part of the Transformation agenda of the Jonathan-led government, the co-coordinating minister of the economy and minister of finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in company of the power minister recently signed an agreement worth approximately $1.293 billion on power project with a group of Chinese companies. The project, which is popularly called the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Project can be described as a positive step in a positive direction by the Nigerian government as part of its efforts to end electricity shortages in the country.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

Located in Zungeru, a local community in Niger State, 150 km away from Abuja, the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Project is expected to generate 700 megawatts of power to boost the country’s current 4,500 megawatts capacity and is scheduled to be finished in four years.

According to the Minister of Finance, the contract is captured in the 2012-2014 Medium Term Borrowing Plan approved by the National Assembly. In her words, “The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.3 billion, that is 75% of the entire cost, will be financed by a loan provided by the China Eximbank while the Federal Government has already paid 25% of the running cost to kick-start the project. The loan is obtained at a highly favourable concessional terms: 2.5% interest rate with a seven year grace period and 20 years maturity.”

Kudos should be given to the President for surrounding himself with a brilliant team of technocrats, headed by the globally renowned Okonjo-Iweala. Now Nigerians can begin to appreciate the efforts of the government in tackling head on the age-long problem of power shortage in the country. No doubt, this latest initiative will yield savoury dividends in economic and social opportunities, part of which is job creation for the Nigerian people after the project, not to mention the direct and indirect jobs that will be created in thousands for local technicians, engineers, artisans and others during the construction phase.

The nation can only be the better off for this Zungeru Project in terms of economic growth, which will usher in a new period of industrialization and urbanization of our rural areas. Meanwhile, I will urge our leaders to keep the timeframe for this project to the four years they have told us; while we the people need to give maximum support to make the project a reality.

Nigeria is the latest business destination in Africa, and the government is trying its best to create a conducive economic environment for business to thrive, and power is a major issue to achieve this end.

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