By NBF News
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ABUJA - THE Federal Government yesterday offered $4 billion (N600 billion) as what would be required by the government and international donor agencies to execute the Mambilla hydro-power project.

When completed, the government said the Mambilla power project, which will take seven years to finish, would generate 2,600 mega watts of power in 2018.

The Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday gave the nod for the final detailed engineering design, project management and supervision of the project, which had on several occasions, been stalled.

The conclusion of work on the engineering design and project management, which was awarded at a cost of $37.2million, is expected to kick-off before the end of 2011.

Fielding questions from newsmen after the meeting, Nuhu Wya, Minister of State, Power, said the approval of the project was a major milestone in the history of power generation and distribution in the country.

He said: 'This is a major milestone, which will give the single project in the electricity sector a minimum of 2,600 mega watts of power, all coming from the same station. It will be a major milestone in the history of this country.

'That project has been on the drawing board and Mr. President has come out and held the bull by the horn and has now unravelled the mystery behind the Mambila project. He has done all the studies that needed to be done.

'This time, he has commissioned a consultant to do the final detailed study, which will now enable any potential investor that will partner with the Federal Government to see this as a well crafted project because of its magnitude, all the details have been consummated and now ready to fly.

'Mambila has been on the drawing board for so many years. Indeed, when I came out of the university, one of my classmates did his NYSC on a project called Mambila as far back as 1976,' he said enthusiastically.'

Wya said, 'this project, we are anticipating, the rough estimate for it is about $4 billion. The money will come partially from Federal Government funding and international financing'.

The minister explained further that 'within the year 2011, we will see meaningful development on Mambila and once it commences, the project is anticipated to be completed in a maximum period of seven years because it is a hydro project.

'The dams have to be built and the hydro-electric companies will come in and then we have a major transmission line which will span from Mambila itself up to Makurdi and from Mambila to Taraba State.'

The minister explained that one of Brazilian Power Company had already shown interest in investing in the multi-purpose project, adding that already, President Jonathan had set up a committee to commence discussions on the modalities for the involvement of the company.

'We have been speaking with the major consortium of Brazilian nationals. During the recent swearing in of the president of Brazil, I was opportune to be in the company of the vice president for this swearing in ceremony and I was able to meet the minister of energy of Brazil whom we discussed this project with and they linked me up with the major utility companies in Brazil that has shown very keen interest in the development of the Mambila project.

'Mr. President has set up a committee that will advance the discussions with this company and ensure that this project is implemented in no distant time,' the minister said.

Asked if the project would not go the way of others, Way said 'this one, Mr. President has followed it up to a level that what has been done now is irreversible. Some irreversible progress has been achieved and what remains now is immediate implementation.'

Earlier, Labaran Maku, Minister of Information and Communications said the contract was first brought to council for deliberation in January 2011 but was suspended because of the complaint raised by some of the companies who submitted bids for the projects.

He explained that the Mambilla hydroelectric power project 'is one of the key initiatives of the Federal Government towards improving energy security in the country.'

Meanwhile, FEC also approved the variation order on contract for the construction of 338mw Egbema power plant project under the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited, to accommodate three additional gas turbines and combined cycle operation to raise expected generation to 675MW, at a cost of $54.645 million.

The contract for the construction of the Egbema power plant project was first awarded in 2006 at a cost of $128,366,751.74 million