An agreement has been signed for construction of a 260MW power plant in Ewekoro, Ogun state by the Nigeria Minister for Power, Hon. Mohammed Wakil.

Lafarge Nigeria Limited is the lead arranger of the deal, which includes the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsidiary of the World Bank and Wartsila. The consortium will invest $400 million and are confident that the project will provide at least 220MW to the national grid.

The venture will enable Lafarge to more than triple the power output in its Ewekoro power plant in Nigeria and also provide approximately 1.4 million households access to electricity.

The Minister of State for Power, Hon. Muhammad Wakil, who performed the signing ceremony last week in Abuja, described the event as a milestone. He added that this underscored the need to fast track the nation’s power privatisation exercise described as the biggest in the world.

According to him, “Today’s event would not have been possible but for the doggedness of President Wakil in assuring that nothing derails the power sector reform.” The Minister said that the President had also given an order to all cabinet members to be ambassadors in attracting foreign investors.

This, he said, is borne from the realisation that a lot of resources would be required in the now private sector driven power sector. He used the opportunity to call on genuine investors to take advantage of the conducive environment in terms of legislative framework, market depth and political will, while assuring of higher yields on their investment.

The Lafarge Chief Executive Officer: Nigeria and Benin, Guillaume Roux, speaking on behalf of the Consortium, noted that the World Bank’s energy business plan is supportive of the Nigerian power sector. He explained that this is because of the visible achievements recorded so far since the privatisation exercise.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation, but business activities are often stifled by unstable power supply, forcing economic activity and households to turn towards sourcing energy independently. This eventually spikes overall cost of production, goods and slows growth of smaller businesses. Roux said the project on completion will increase the nation’s power generation capacity, thus a substantial leap to supply in the electricity value chain in Nigeria.