The development challenges facing the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria are known globally, thanks to the activities of international environmental rights groups.
The travails of Niger Deltans include environmental degradation, lack of drinking water while dwelling right in the middle of it and inadequate transport infrastructure.
In addition to these challenges, communities in the Niger Delta often experience power outages due to the harsh effect of the region’s peculiar environment on distribution transformers which were not made to withstand such conditions.
The resulting incessant power outages in the Niger Delta are in fact one of the major impediments to the development of cottage industries in the region not to talk of their making the life of the inhabitants generally difficult.
Engr Emeka Maxwell Ani, a power system expert, felt challenged by the age-old problem of power transformers breaking down in the Niger Delta that he decided to tackle the problem.
At the instance of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Nigerian engineer developed new specifications for the transformers that can withstand the elements in the Niger Delta.
The Niger Delta environment-friendly distribution transformers, which were produced in Austria, were deployed across the Niger Delta and are proving successful in addressing a problem that has been plaguing the region for more than 60 years.
The secret of Engr Emeka Ani’s solution lies in the additional specifications for transformers meant for service in the Niger Delta. These are that:
1. Transformers have to be hermetically sealed
2. Transformers’ flux density has to be less than one micro Tesla.
3. Transformer oil has to be of the biodegradable type to avoid contamination of the water table in the event of a spill
4. Transformers must withstand 1,000meters depth of water
5. Transformers have to be of a compact size
6. Transformers are to be specially galvanized to prevent rust.
The transformers have been distributed to Niger Delta communities for various power improvement projects by the NDDC. And the result has been that cases of burnt and faulty transformers are becoming history with power supply becoming more stable and regular.
Experts say Engr Emeka Ani’s intervention would lead invariably to the improvement of the socio-economic conditions in the Niger Delta and the betterment of the lives of the people of the region.
The Nigerian-based engineer has proved, once again, the value of tapping local talents to tackle the developmental challenges confronting the country.