In Cameroon, the Nachtigal hydroelectric project will soon enter its operational phase, since the work is almost complete. The plant will be fully operational in 2024.
Cameroon’s installed electricity capacity is expected to increase in the coming months. This will be thanks to the gradual commissioning of the Nachtigal dam and hydroelectric power station, located in the Mbam-et-Kim department, in the central region. According to Rokhaya Diop Diallo, the head of the Nachtigal hydroelectric project at the African Development Bank (AfDB), at the current pace of work, the power plant will deliver its first MW by the end of 2023.
“In the civil works package, work on the main dam is nearing completion. The implementation of the roller-compacted concrete was completed one month ago, on 29 March,” the AfDB expert explained. He added, “As regards the electromechanical package, a new step was taken on 10 February with the installation of the upper crosspiece in the generator shaft of unit 1. These two important steps bring the project partners closer to the objective of impounding the dam in July 2023, for commissioning of the first unit at the end of 2023,” continues Rokhaya Diop Diallo.
Full commissioning in 2024
According to her, the commissioning of the other turbines will follow in 2024. For the time being, work on the evacuation line and the hydroelectric development’s operating compound has already been completed. According to the AfDB, the civil engineering and electromechanical works are 84.3% complete and all the equipment of the hydroelectric plant is 81,1 % complete. The project is a public-private partnership (PPP) and entered the construction phase in 2019.
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The project is being developed by Nachtigal Hydro Power Company (NHPC), a special purpose vehicle owned 40% by Électricité de France (EDF) and 20% by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group’s private sector financing arm. The State of Cameroon also holds a 15% stake. The same goes for the Africa50 investment platform and 10% for Stoa, an impact investment fund created by the Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC) and the French Development Agency (AFD).
1.2 billion investment
Built on the Sanaga River, the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam, which will be impounded in a few weeks, is 14 m high and 1,380 m wide. The reservoir will produce electricity from a power station equipped with six turbines of 60 MW each, for a combined capacity of 420 MW. When commissioned in 2024, Nachtigal will be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Cameroon, capable of supplying 30% of the Central African country’s electricity.
The total cost of the project is estimated at €1.2 billion. NHPC is financing 76% of the project through loans from 15 development finance institutions and commercial banks, including AFD, AfDB, IFC, European Investment Bank (EIB), British International Investment (BII), the Opec Fund for International Development (OFID) and Société Générale.
Jean Marie Takouleu