The Federal Government yesterday approved the contract of the Mambilla hydro power plant at a cost of $5.792 billion.
The project consists of engineering and electro-mechanical works and on completion will produce 3,050 megawatts of electricity, nearly half of the current total national output.
"Nigeria started talking about it (project) since 1972; that is about 45 years ago," Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, told State House reporters shortly after the federal cabinet approved the contract yesterday.
"Several efforts had been made to bring it to reality but I'm happy to announce that this government approved the contract today to joint ventures of Chinese Civil and Engineering Company for the engineering and turn-key contract, including civil and electro-mechanical works for 5.792 billion dollars. The construction should take about 72 months (6 years).
"It is designed to deliver 3,050 megawatt of power. The productive output will be a function of water supply, because that is the major source of fuel, is a hydroplane."
Fashola added: "The project requires the construction of four dams, one of them is about 150 meters in height, the immediate two are 70 meters in height and the smallest of them is 50 meters in height.
"It also includes 700 kilometres of transmission line. It will be in Taraba state in the area called Gembu, and it will unleash the potential that have been reported about Mambila, including agriculture, tourism and energy.
"You will recall that sometimes last year, the Chinese government held a summit in South Africa, essentially what that was about was supporting and partnering with African government to do their infrastructure and also funding the Agurua projects, so this was one of the projects of infrastructure that was submitted there and I think it also had the rail component.
"The money is coming from the Chinese government through their Exim bank, so it is an export funding support for them and an import funding for us. Eighty five percent is supposed to be financed by them and 15 per cent is our own counterpart funding.
"The award now triggers contract negotiations for the financing side and after that are concluded the projects can now start."