NBET, varsities to monitor power plants

A power transmission facility in Lagos.

A power transmission facility in Lagos.

A new era is set to unfold in efforts to promote local capacities in the power sector, as the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) yesterday announced a new resolve to use Nigerian universities to monitor construction of power plants.

The decision is coming among insinuations that foreign consultancy firms would be engaged.

As part of its commitment to this, NBET, also called the Bulk Trader, yesterday sealed an agreement with the Faculty of Engineering, University of Benin (UNIBEN), to monitor and ensure that the construction of Azura Power Plant is to world class and meets all international standards.

This is the first of its kind in using Nigerian universities to provide technical oversight in the construction of any power plant in Nigeria.

The Azura-Edo IPP is a 450-500mw gas-fired open cycle power plant located in the northeastern outskirts of Benin City in Edo State with an estimated project cost of $700 million.

Minister of State, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, who supervised the signing of the agreement in Abuja, described it as a milestone, which other Nigerian universities should emulate.

“This partnership between the university and NBET will save the country a lot in terms of the meagre foreign reserves that Nigeria has today, especially if we were to invite professionals from outside the country. We should emulate this same kind of partnership in other projects. We need to start engaging our universities in the area of research. It will also build the capacity of students. After the completion of the projects, the university should also be consulted from time to time for either turnaround maintenance or normal maintenance of the project,” he observed.

He noted: “The MoU and the participation by the University of Benin ensures that government utilises the knowhow of the academic world while providing an opportunity for knowledge transfer to undergraduate and post graduate students. This is in line with the government push for maximising the opportunities available for technology transfer, enhancing the education curriculum and ensuring that the required skills and manpower required are available. Through partnerships like this, government can monitor private sector investment which will be paid for by consumers to ensure that they meet world class standard without taking over supervision of the project.”

Meanwhile, Managing Director of NBET, Mr. Rumundaka Wonodi, said that the pact was for the monitoring of the Azura project.

He stated: “It is a 450 megawatts gas-fired power plant that just started construction in January. That project and its sponsors entered into a Power Purchase Agreement with NBET to generate power, which we can buy.

“Part of providing guarantees in that project by the government is that in the life of that project, if anything happens, a political issue or the need to terminate the PPA, government will buy back the power plant and take it over from Azura. Therefore, it is important that during its construction, government will make sure it is constructed to world class standards so that if we are to take it over, it will continue to generate the power and consumers will not be stranded.

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