SEYCHELLES: Covid-19 delays several water and renewable energy projects

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SEYCHELLES: Covid-19 delays several water and renewable energy projects©subin pumsom/Shutterstock

In the Seychelles, the authorities are concerned about the delay caused by Covid-19 in the development projects under way in the country. Many of these initiatives are aimed at strengthening the archipelago's water and electricity supply from renewable sources.

As the restrictions put in place to counter the spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus 2019) are gradually being eased in Africa, the Seychelles authorities are concerned about the continuing impact of the disease on the country’s development projects, including the production of water and electricity needed to supply the population.

For example, the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) believes that the Chinese company Sinohydro will not be able to meet its schedule for the rehabilitation of the La Gogue dam in Mahé, the largest island in the Seychelles archipelago. “Currently, the work is still affected.  For example, highly skilled workers and specialists from China and other countries are still not allowed to enter the country. What we’re seeing is a lack of specialized professionals to help us supervise the work,” says Philippe Morin, director general of the PUC.

The Mahé drinking water project, stalled

Sinohydro, however, planned to commission the La Gogue dam in June 2020. The aim of the project is to raise the dam’s dyke by 6 m with an artificial waterproofing system, which consists of a PVC (polyvinyl chloride, editor’s note) membrane anchored in a trench dug into the existing core. The work will increase the amount of water stored by the reservoir from 600,000 to 1.6 million cubic metres.

Following the rehabilitation and optimization of the La Gogue dam, the government of the Seychelles is planning a second phase of the project: the construction of a new drinking water plant. The plant will be located downstream of the dam. It will have a daily capacity of 4,400 m³ of drinking water. The Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) planned to start operating the drinking water plant in June 2021. This deadline will certainly be pushed back. The authorities are now working on the commissioning of the dam during the first quarter of 2021, “if the country is not affected by a second wave of Covid-19, if travel restrictions are eased and if specialised labour can come in by air”.

Romainville solar project affected

According to the director general of the PUC, measures taken to counter the spread of Covid-19 are also impacting the Romainville solar project. Philippe Morin indicates that the commissioning of the 5 MWp photovoltaic solar power plant has been delayed due to a lack of technical assistance from foreign experts.

The installation consists of 14,850 solar panels and a 3.3 MWh battery-based electricity storage system to supply at least 2,000 Seychellois households.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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