Nigerians, very much used to erratic power supply have all the reasons to celebrate following an announcement by a mining company - Western Goldfields - that it has discovered 62,400,000 tonnes of proven reserves of coal deposits worth US$1.2 billion which could be used for the generation of electric power.
Speaking to journalists in Nigeria's legislative capital of Abuja, Western Goldfields Chairman Philip Pereira said the company would aim to produce a total of 1,500MW of electricity from a combibation of mines and power stations utilising domestic coal.
According to Pereira the electricity would be generated in Nigeria's six states of Anambra, Benue, Delta, Enugu, Imo and Kogi. He said his company will be partnered by the United Bank of Africa (UBA) and China's second largest power producer - Huadian Corporation to exploit the reserves.
In September, we shall be able to present accurate timelines to President Umaru Yar'Adua and the people of Nigeria for the solutions we plan for the country's power problems, Pereira is quoted as saying by Leadership Newspaper.
It will take about 24 months for one power station of 250 megawatts to become operational in each of the six states, generating a total of 1,500 megawatts. The exploration of proven coal reserves will be a continuous process and will be followed by the development of mines and power stations until the nation's requirement for power are met and exceeded.
The company says it will only apply for a license from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to build independent power plants after ascertaining that it would be economically viable to venture into such an undertaking.
UBA has confirmed partnering Western Goldfields in the project in order to end Nigeria's electricity woes.
We indicated interest in the project because meeting the nation's electricity challenge would be instrumental key to the transformation of the nation's economy. Meeting the deficit must be through diversified sources and not necessarily through thermal station as is presently the case, UBA Head of Corporate Affairs Rotimi Balogun says.
Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Ardua's achievements since he took over government a year ago are being undermined by his failure to tackle problems dogging the country's power sector. Upon assuming office, the President declared a state of emergency on the power sector winning praise from the people. But twelve months down the line, most Nigerians are still in the dark.
The country is encouraging coal mining in order to help meet electricity demand. President Yar'Adua has committed to deliver 30,000 megawatts of electricity to Nigerians in the first four years of his administration, according to BBC's Focus on Africa magazine.
Currently the country generates less than 3,000 megawatts out of a requirement of 20,000 megawatts despite spending US$16 billion on the power sector during Olusegun Obasanjo's presidential term.