Abuja — The governments of Nigeria and China furthered their mutual cooperation on Saturday with the signing of approximately 1.293 billion U.S. dollars agreement on a major power project in the West African country.
Located in Zungeru, a local community in Niger State, 150 km away from the capital city Abuja, the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Project is expected to generate 700,000 kilowatts or 700 megawatts of power for Africa's most populous country, Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said at the signing ceremony.
The Nigerian official noted the contract awarded to two Chinese electric power firms, China National Electrical Equipment Corporation (CNEEC) and Sinohydro Consortium, was given a loan facility by the EximBank of China, with preferential conditions.
The Eximbank would bear 75 percent of the cost of the project while a counterpart funding balance of 309 million dollars had been made available by Nigeria.
"The project will create thousands of jobs during the construction phase both directly and indirectly. A lot of Nigerian technicians, engineers and artisans and others will be employed during the construction phase," added Okonjo-Iweala, who doubles as coordinating minister of the Nigerian economy.
She expressed delight at the success of work at the project site, noting the two Chinese contractors are expected to finish work in 2018.
Chinese Ambassador in Nigeria Deng Boqing, who signed the agreement on behalf of the East Asian nation's government, said the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Project was significant to the Nigerian people, because it will contribute greatly to economic growth, meeting growing power demand as the West African nation ushers in a new period of industrialization and urbanization.
"China and Nigerian share the same dream, that is to bring prosperity and stability to the people, and these visions have been fully communicated by the leaders of our two countries when President Goodluck Jonathan visited China in July 2013.
"The construction of Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Station is one of the many consensuses reached by the presidents of our two countries. Today, the signing ceremony is the fruit of that state visit and we believe more concrete steps will be taken to further boost our already flourishing cooperation and enrich our strategic partnership," Deng noted.
He said the project, when completed, will also help bring the much-needed electricity for economic transformation toward achieving Nigeria's "2020:20 vision".
"The contractors of this project, Sinohydro Corporation and China National Electrical Equipment Corporation (CNEEC) both reputed for professional experience and cutting-edge expertise, are top-ranking companies in the field of engineering and construction. I have great expectations for the two companies. It is their responsibility to ensure that all works are done with good quality as well as in a timely manner," the Chinese envoy added.
The Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Project was conceived in 1982, but due to constraints of funds, the construction work could not commence.
The Nigerian government approved the project in 2012 in order to obtain more electricity, help maintain appropriate power prices and promote economic growth and development of the country.
In May, President Jonathan said the 1.293-billion-U.S.-dollar power project would be the largest to be built by his administration.