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Geometric Ready for Steady Power Supply in Aba

 

The Geometric Independent Power project’s start of operations in Aba, Abia State, last week should be seen as a clear statement to both domestic and foreign investors that Aba is open for business.

On Monday, February 26, 2024, there were audible exhalations of relief in Aba as Nigeria’s Vice-President Kashim Shettima turned on the first turbine of the 141 MW thermal power plant owned by the Geometric Power Group. Actually, if the relief had been spoken out loud, it would have echoed over the entire region and roared like thunder. After 20 years of development, the power plant was finally opened, fulfilling the ambition of Professor Barth Nnaji, the Chairman and CEO of Geometric Power Group.

The visit opened the eyes of the World Bank boss to the plethora of small, medium and large scale enterprises that could blossom to boundless limits if only constant power supply was made available. While narrating the genesis of his dream at a recent Igbo leadership colloquium, Nnaji said that “after the visit in 2004, the duo asked me to consider building a 50-megawatt power plant in Abia for manufacturers, both big ones like the Star Paper Mill and small ones like the hundreds of excellent shoemakers and clothiers at the famous Ariaria Market”.

He said that the late World Bank President James Wolfensohn and Professor Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had given him inspiration to envision the establishment of a power infrastructure capable of continuously supplying Aba, the state’s commercial and industrial center, with energy. In 2004, Wolfensohn was invited to Aba by Okonjo-Iweala, the current Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), who was the Finance Minister of Nigeria at the time. This allowed Wolfensohn to see firsthand the enormous economic and technological potential of the city.

The former minister of power, who is a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering said that the idea was sold to him having previously demonstrated his capability. Nnaji attracted attention after leading a small team of dedicated Nigerian engineers and entrepreneurs to build a 22 megawatt Emergency Plant in Abuja in 2001 for the supply of electricity to State House, the NNPC headquarters, the Abuja Business District, and other places’ ‘. He not only bought the idea of building a 50MW power plant in Aba but decided to embark on a bigger project of building a 141 MW plant expandable to 188MW.

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This led to the conception of the $800 million Aba integrated power project (IPP). Nnaji referred to the autonomous power project as “a child of necessity” at the inaugural event, noting that it was developed during a time when Nigeria’s power supply problems were crippling the country’s manufacturing sector, resulting in factories closing and investments collapsing.

With a license to produce and distribute electricity, Geometric Power Plant is the only Independent Power Producer (IPP) in Nigeria. This implies that Geometric Power Group combines the functions of a power distribution company (Disco) and a power generating company (Genco) into one. Its two subsidiaries, Aba Electric Company Limited (Aba Power) and Geometric Power Aba Limited (GPAL), handle the roles of Disco and Genco, respectively. Regarding his decision to invest a significant amount of money in Aba, Nnaji stated that he had “enthusiastically accepted” the idea to start the IPP because the plant would be situated there. “Everyone interested in our nation’s rapid progress has a special place in our hearts and minds for this city: it is the birthplace of indigenous manufacturing, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” he said.

Governor Otti in his speech aptly entitled “The Power to dream’’ said that the commencement of firing Geometric first gas turbine is a celebration of “the actualisation of a lofty dream, the beginning of a new epoch and the reaffirmation of our limitless abilities as a people’’. “Certainly, the success of this power project will not just validate my unyielding belief in Aba but would send a clear signal to local and international investors that Aba is open for business,” he said.

Although 52 percent of Abia LGs are within Geometric Power Group’s service region and uninterrupted power delivery is the company’s ultimate goal, Nnaji stated that it would not be automatic. He promised that once the second of the four turbines was installed, customers would eventually be able to enjoy uninterrupted power. He stated that the turbines will be turned on one at a time, with each phase starting following the successful operation of the preceding one.

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