Abuja — When completed, the ongoing 330KV West African North-Core interconnection transmission line will save West African countries about $58 billion in annual energy spending, Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, has said.
Speaking at the first session of the joint ministerial steering committee of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) in Abuja, Mamman stated that the project would involve the construction of approximately 875 km of 330 kV and 24 km 225 kV transmission lines from Nigeria to Togo, Niger Republic and Benin Republic with associated substations.
The minister explained that it will also involve the electrification of rural communities located within a 5km radius on both sides of the line, and the implementation of several environmental and social mitigation measures.
According to him, it will further include, among others, the implementation of resettlement action plans to provide compensation for persons and communities affected by the project.
The project is jointly funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the World Bank (WB) and the federal government at a total cost of $568 million.
The operation and maintenance of the entire infrastructure shall be handed over to the utility companies of the participating countries on completion, Mamman added.
He emphasised that the limited access to electricity as well as the endemic electricity shortages constitute a bottleneck to the socio-economic development of member states, stressing that two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 600 million people, is without access to electricity, despite the region’s natural resources.
The lack of reliable and affordable electricity, the minister said, significantly constrains economic activity and growth in the countries and affects disproportionally the poorest segment of the population of the sub-region.
Describing the project as a game changer that could shape the energy landscape of the sub-region through effective and efficient power trade, the minister stated that it is considered as one of the priority projects in the infrastructure programme of the WAPP, aimed at facilitating efficient energy trade in the area.
“The World Bank estimates that power trade within the WAPP could lead to cost savings of $58.0 billion per year, enabling covered countries to benefit from more cost-effective hydro or gas-based imports.
” I am fully confident that the completion of this project, in the 3rd quarter of 2023, will come as a sustainable solution and major contributor to the power sector of West Africa,” he noted.
He said that despite COVID-19 interruption, the project has made considerable progress, stressing that the opening and evaluation of the bids for the substations are planned to be completed by the end of July 2021.
According to him, contract negotiations have already started while potential Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contracting for the transmission lines will be completed in time for the start of construction by August 2021.
In his remarks, the Secretary General of WAPP, Apollinaire Ki, noted that the transmission lines will stretch from Birnin Kebbi to Ouagadougou via Zabori and Niamey and from Zabori to Malanville with five associated processing stations to enable and strengthen electricity exchanges between the countries concerned.
He said that the project is being implemented according to the new model of institutional framework for implementation developed by the WAPP and the countries concerned.
Despite some difficulties encountered, he said the prequalification of construction companies for transmission lines and substations; review of tender documents for transmission lines and substations and launch of bidding documents for the construction of transmission lines and substations had already been completed.
In addition, he noted that analysis of bids and the preparation of contracts for negotiations of six transmission lines and establishment of national bodies to monitor the implementation had taken place.