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Nigeria vast hydropower remain untapped

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By Usman Oladimeji

Total exploitable potential of hydropower is at over 14,120 MW.

As we celebrated the global Hydropower Day on October 11, industry leaders in Nigeria emphasized the benefits of hydropower for the country, including its ability to help maintain the grid, boost electrical capacity, advance renewable energy sources, and diversify away from reliance on fossil fuels. With a total installed capacity of 12,522 MW (excluding off-grid generation), of which 2,062 MW is hydropower, the International Hydropower Association estimates that Nigeria total exploitable potential of hydropower is over 14,120 MW, or more than 50,800GWh of electricity per year.

Managing Director of Mainstream Energy, Lamu Audu, who manages the Jebba, Kainji, and Zungeru Dams, commented on the development, saying that the country would benefit from hydropower in the form of flood management, electricity generation, irrigation, water supply, as well as navigation. Lamu pointed out that if water were allowed to run downstream unchecked, disastrous results could occur. He argued that given the country’s poverty and the need for economic empowerment, it is essential to inject funds into dam projects that will help control flooding, lessen the negative effects on local ecosystems, and open up new possibilities in the areas of agriculture, fishing, irrigation, water supply, and navigation.

Governments should create a conducive policy climate.

Despite Africa’s vast potential for hydropower, the continent is home to one-third of the world’s population that still lacks access to modern electricity. Lamu elaborated, saying that hydro power is not only clean, but also sustainable and cost-effective. Unlocking the country’s potential required investment, an appropriate government structure, and appropriate rules and regulations. He claims that a shortage of money isn’t the only problem as there are investors all around the world who would put money in if they are given assurances of making profits on their investments.

Lamu stressed the importance of governments creating a conducive policy climate to spur growth, mostly in partnership with international organisations. There would be more incentive for investment and cross-border execution of these policies if the AU and comparable entities could formulate comprehensive policies wherein resources are pooled and uniform policies are established. In addition, he stated that his company is in talks with the World Bank to set up a public-private partnership (PPP) model, given that the government had previously built dams in Nigeria and Africa.

Inadequate funding has resulted in delay of hydropower projects.

Furthermore, he mentioned that just 11% of Africa’s 340-gigawatt hydro power potential has been developed as of right now. Director-General Alex Okoh of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) announced that a project delivery team had been established to facilitate the concession of 12 minor hydropower plants; nevertheless, this proposal has thus far remained in the conceptual stage. Inadequate funding for the industry has resulted in hydropower projects like the Mambilla project languishing in the planning stages for decades.

While Nigeria power sector has been partially privatized, the government holds control over most hydropower plants and grants concessions to management in exchange for revenue. Nonetheless, the government still takes out loans to fund hydro-related projects. Hydropower, according to energy expert Madaki Ameh, is Nigeria future because of the country’s huge network of freely flowing rivers and streams. Ameh expressed his confusion as to why Nigeria is not making better use of the globally available technologies to efficiently and affordably deliver hydropower.

Hydropower offers comparable economic, social advantages.

Green energy is the way of the future, and Nigeria stands to gain much from the widespread adoption of this abundant resource, which may be accomplished through large-scale hydropower projects and small-scale distribution systems. He argued that a coherent national policy in this area was long required. Dr. Adedoyin Adeleke, executive director of the Green Growth Africa Sustainability Network (Green Growth Africa), said that hydropower is the cheapest source for electricity generation and that there is enough water in different parts of the country for decentralized exploitation and generation. Adeleke emphasized that hydropower offers comparable economic, social, and environmental advantages notwithstanding the recent focus on domestic usage of gas for energy generation.

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