SIXTY Nigerian engineers have commenced a four month training programme in China to equip them with the necessary skills required to manufacture transformers as part of a scheme to address Nigeria’s chronic electricity supply problems.
Hopelessly overwhelmed by its power crisis, Nigeria only currently generates about 4,000MW of electricity, which is not even up to half of the basic 10,000MW required just to keep basic services going. To make matters worse, the sector’s distribution and transmission companies are also facing a crisis as they lack the funds to invest in equipment like transformers.
Nigeria is an import-dependent economy and relies on imported transformers to furnish the sector but with demand escalating on a daily basis, manufacturing has to be done locally if the transmission companies are to be supplied. Looking for a solution, the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (Naseni) has revealed that 60 of its engineers have left for China for four months training on manufacturing of transformers in Nigeria.
Naseni spokesman Olusegun Ayeoyenikan, said the training was targeted at establishing a fully indigenous transformer plant to be operated and managed by Nigerians with local content as priority. This, he added is a major leap toward establishing the federal government’s proposed transformer manufacturing plant and high voltage testing laboratory in Nigeria.
Both the transformer manufacturing plant and testing laboratory are to be located at the Power Equipment and Electrical Machinery Development Institute located in Okene in Kogi State. Professor Mohammed Haruna, Naseni’s executive vice president, said that he felt fulfilled that a new phase in the journey toward having Nigeria’s own transformer manufacturing plant and high voltage testing laboratory had opened with the departure of the engineers to China.
He appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari and the minister of science and technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, for the confidence reposed in Naseni and its management to facilitate the project. He also expressed his gratitude to the Chinese Great Wall Industry Corporation, a major partner in the implementation of the project.
According to Professor Haruna, the engineers, on completion of their training, were to return to Nigeria to deploy different specialisations acquired in China. This, according to him, includes the production of components and spare parts, bolts and nuts, machines and other equipment used to drive the power sector.
He added: “This particular training is different from that which people normally go for overseas as this one is targeted at not only obtaining capacities but actually to set up a plant which will produce components, spare parts and utilise Nigeria local materials. It is also to achieve domestication of the technology behind manufacturing of transformers and also the high-voltage testing laboratory.”
According to Professor Haruna, currently the production of transformers in the country was through the assembling of parts but lacking local content. He said the establishment of Nigeria’s own indigenous transformers manufacturing plant would remove such anomalies.
“The practice is for importers to bring components and transformer parts from other countries for assembly in Nigeria. This mode of supply of transformers to the market cannot develop local content nor achieve indigenous mass of experts for the country,” Professor Haruna added.