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Cameroon’s hydroelectric plans

27 March 2012 – Negotiations have begun between Cameroon’s ministry of water and energy and Joule Africa of the UK as well as German company Lahmeyer. This relates to the potential construction of an up to 500 MW hydroelectric dam in Menchum in northeast Cameroon. The consortium is preparing to launch an assessment of what is called the Kpep project’s estimated costs.

If all goes well, construction of the Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) project could begin at the end of 2013 or early 2014, with the facility potentially in operation as early as two years later.

The two companies, which are already present on the continent of Africa, also signed a US$750 million agreement in 2011 in Sierra Leone, that aims to increase the capacity of the Bumbuna hydroelectric dam, from 50 MW to 400 MW by the end of this year.

The Kpep hydroelectric power station would complement the projects already planned in Cameroon, though many are in need of finance, which would eventually allow the country to export electricity.

It takes into account that Cameroon’s hydroelectric potential is some 12 GW, placing the country third only behind the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia in terms of Africa’s hydroelectric potential. At the moment the country’s electricity production is little more than 1,000 MW and the government says it plans to triple that capacity by 2020.

Meanwhile, the country has finalised the financing of a US$380 million 216 MW thermal gas plant at Kribi, and this plant should be commissioned during 2013. Its capacity could be extended to 330 MW, and it will be built and operated by the Kribi Power Development Corporation (KPDC), a subsidiary of AES-Sonel, Cameroon’s largest electricity supplier. The project is partly financed by the state which is contributing US$120 million, a consortium of local banks which is providing US$80 million, and international investors which are providing the remainder. The gas for the facility will be supplied by the end of 2012, by the Société Nationale des Hydrocarbures (SNH).

Another project that is hoped will progress, is the construction of the Lom-Pangar dam on the Sanaga River, in the east of Cameroon. The plan is to build a water reservoir of six billion cubic metres to supply the Edéa and Song Loulou plants to increase their production capacity from 450 MWh at present to 729 MWh by 2015.

In addition to Lom-Pangar, work on at least two other infrastructural projects is hoped to begin between 2013 and 2014. One of these is a 250 MW hydroelectric power plant in Nachtigal, which will cost US$780 million, and could increase the annual production of Aluminum du Cameroun. Another one is the US$477 million 200 MW Memve’ele plant on the Ntem River.