Construction works on the Zungeru hydropower project were started in May 2013. Credit: Power Construction Corporation of China.
The Zungeru hydropower project is expected to be commissioned in 2021. Credit: Power Construction Corporation of China.
The Zungeru hydropower facility is being built with a loan from the Exim Bank of China that covers 75% of the project cost. Credit: Power Construction Corporation of China.

Zungeru hydropower project is a 700MW hydroelectric facility being built with Chinese assistance on the upper and middle reaches of Kaduna River in the Niger State of Nigeria.

The Federal Ministry of Power and Steel of Nigeria is the owner and implementing authority of the project.

Estimated to cost $1.3bn, Zungeru is the biggest hydropower project under construction in Nigeria. It is also one of the biggest power projects in Africa to avail preferential loan facility from the Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) of China.

Construction works on the power plant started in May 2013 and were expected to take 60 months for completion. However, legal and financial challenges related to ecological settlement in the affected area delayed the project commissioning to 2021.

Zungeru hydropower project benefits

The Zungeru project is estimated to generate 2.64 billion kWh of electricity a year, which will meet close to 10% of Nigeria’s total domestic energy needs. Apart from electricity generation, the project also intends to provide flood control, irrigation, as well as water supply and fish breeding facilities.

The project was expected to provide employment opportunities to more than 2,000 people during the peak construction period.

Zungeru hydropower project location and development details

The Zungeru hydroelectric project site is located on the Kaduna River near Zungelu in the Niger State, approximately 150km away from Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria.

The Zungeru hydropower project was launched in May 2013, while the Federal Government of Nigeria signed a loan agreement for the project with the Exim Bank of China in November 2013.

“The underground powerhouse of the facility will be equipped with four hydro turbine and generator units rated 175MW each.”

River closure, diversion, and the main dam construction works were started in December 2016.

Construction of dam gates for the project was underway as of May 2019.

Zungeru hydropower project make-up

The main components of the Zungeru hydropower project include a 2,400m roller-compacted concrete (RCC) gravity feed dam, a clay core rockfill dam, an underground powerhouse located behind the RCC dam, a tailrace channel, and two switchyards on both banks of the river.

The crest elevation of the RCC dam will be 233m, while the maximum height will be 101m. The dam will create a reservoir with a carry-over water storage capacity of 10.4 billion cubic metres (bcm).

The underground powerhouse of the facility will be equipped with four hydro turbine and generator units rated 175MW each.

Zungeru hydropower project financing

The financing agreement for the $1.3bn Zungeru hydropower project was signed between the Exim Bank of China and the Government of Nigeria in September 2013.

The Exim bank of China provides preferential buyer’s credit covering 75% of the project cost as part of the agreement, while the remaining 25% is funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Contractors involved

The consortium of China National Electric Engineering Company (CNEEC) and Sinohydro, a subsidiary of Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina), was awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the project in October 2012.

The scope of the contract included a topographical survey, the design and building of the main dam structure, as well as the construction of access roads and other ancillary infrastructure for the project.

Kunming Survey and Design Institute, a subsidiary of China Hydropower Engineering Consulting Group (CHECG), was roped in to provide design and technical services for the project in March 2013.

Care Tech Auto Enterprises is the supplier of communication equipment on security patrol vehicles at the project site.

Global Legend Integrated Concept Company, a professional service provider based in Nigeria, was engaged for the relocation of communities from the areas affected by the project.