ABUJA, Africa, Sept. 20, 2000 — Nigeria’s state-run National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) has awarded a $120 million contract to Germany’s Siemens AG for the construction of a 276 MW skid-mounted power generating plant at Afam, in Rivers State, southeast Nigeria.

Erratic performance by the nation’s electric industry has forced Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration to place more emphasis on improving supplies to attract much-needed investments from within and outside the country.

NEPA spokesman Mohammed Mousa-Booth said the contract, the first of its kind to be awarded by the company in the last 10 years, will help serve that purpose.

“This project, when completed, will make Nigerians happy, as it will bring about relief to some parts of the country already experiencing an [erratic] power supply situation,” he pointed out.

The skid-mounted emergency power plant is expected to serve as an alternative source of power generation, pending the completion of the overhaul and rehabilitation of the Afam thermal plant. It will be powered by gas from Nigeria’s oil fields.

The original Afam power station was built in 1963 with an installed capacity of 699 MW, but was damaged by fire, which gutted the plant a few years back.

Nigeria has 5,881 MW of installed electric generating capacity. About 43% of Nigeria’s population has access to electricity, but NEPA plans to boost this share to 85% by 2010. Industrial output has fallen drastically in the past because there is not enough power to run production.

In most cases, manufacturing industries provide their own power supply infrastructure, known locally as “BYOI” (bring your own infrastructure), only to incorporate the cost into the final product price. Cadbury Nigeria, for instance, in the absence of reliable power, generates 8 MW of electricity to run its Lagos food-processing plant.

Liyel Imoke, chairman of NEPA’s technical board, signed the contract on behalf of the authority, Mousa-Booth reported, while Eduard Seidel, managing director of Siemens, endorsed it for his company.

Mousa-Booth said Seidel gave assurances Siemens will complete the contract within the 15 months schedule agreed upon.