By Bankole Shakirudeen Adeshina
ACTING Director General and Chief Executive of the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, Hajia Rabi Sodangi, has recommended the exploitation of the nation’s huge coal deposit for generation of electricity in the country.
Speaking against the recent international survey that rated Nigeria the second worst country among 137 countries on stable electricity index in 2017, Sodangi said given the seeming inexhaustible reserve of the natural mineral resource in the country, and its successful experimentation during the regional government in the second republic, Nigeria’s economic industrialization project is not supposed to be stampeded by epileptic supply of electricity.
In a statement titled “Developing Coal For Power,” issued on Friday, Sodangi disclosed that currently, “Nigeria is blessed with abundant coal resources estimated to be about 2.8billion metric tonnes, mostly subbituminous which is very good for power generation and when converted to power can last the next 200 years.
“The resources are generously deposited in 18 states across the country, with the largest deposit domicile at Anambra basin, which is about 3000sqkm situated west of the lower Benue Trough. Other deposit areas: Ogboyoga and Okaba in Kogi State; Orukpa and Ezimo in Benue State; Onyeama and Okpara in Enugu State; Inyi, Afikpo and Amasiodo in Enugu State; Obi – Lafiya in Nasarawa State; Gombe deposits in Gombe State; and Ogwashi – Asaba Lignite in Delta State.”
Quoting a study by Behre Dolbear, which estimated Nigeria’s electricity demand to be 7,000MW in 2010, 10,000MW in 2015 and 25,000MW in 2025 with coal providing 50%, Sodangi implored the Federal Government to explore the coal solution to power supply problem in the country.
She explained that though “most of the coal blocks have been sold to investors since 2010 in line with the Bureau of Public Enterprise, but “the purpose was for the investors to develop and facilitate coal development towards power generation” for the country.
According to her, “Nigeria can have up to four coal-fired power plants in Kogi, Benue, Enugu and Gombe States situated near the coal sites which can generate about 20,000MW. Exploration must be intensified to quantify and quality all these sites for mining to feed the power plants.
“We need to pursue the cheapest source of electricity which is coal. We must do what industrialized nations do in order to industrialize, which is uninterrupted power supply. Nigeria’s energy mix is dominated by hydro and gas and has been oscillating between 5000MW to 7000MW due to low water levels and vandalism of gas pipelines.”
Sodangi, who just returned from a high-powered investment and training tour of China, on the delegation of the Minister, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, noted that there may be need for the FG to engaged China and or India on how best to achieve a cleaner power from coal.
Sodangi noted that “coal provides 50% of the Worlds energy. China generates over 70% of Its electricity from coal. US 30%, UK 35% and India 73%. And Nigerians are industrious by nature, what has been holding us down is lack of electricity. A coal power plant can also generate over 2000 direct jobs and much more indirect jobs.
“Therefore, the investors should be supported and compelled to complete the exploration in order to attract major miners to produce the coal. National Steel Raw Materials has been contributing towards coal exploration and could do a lot more with necessary funding from government. We have done some exploration work in Okaba, Ogboyoga, Ogwashi, Obi- Lafiya, some sites in Gombe State and are currently in Amasiodo,” she added.