The implementation of the Nachtigal hydroelectric project in Cameroon is reportedly over 80% complete. The facility is expected to gradually begin producing power by the end of this year, with commercial operation beginning in 2024.
Particularly, as far as the civil works package is concerned, work on the main dam is nearing completion. The implementation of roller-compacted concrete was completed on 29 March 2023. In regards to the electromechanical package, a new step was taken on 10 February 2023. The installation of the upper crosspiece in the generator shaft of unit 1.
These two important steps, according to Rokhaya Diop Diallo, bring the project partners closer to the objective of impounding the dam in July 2023. The commissioning of the first unit will follow at the end of 2023.
Diallo is the head of the Nachtigal hydroelectric project at the African Development Bank (AfDB). According to her, the commissioning of the other turbines at the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam will follow in 2024.
Cameroon is set to receive US $794.5m for the construction of the 420 MW Nachtigal hydroelectric project after the World Bank approved the investment package.
According to the World Bank country director for Cameroon, Elisabeth Huybens the investment in the clean energy sector is essential to reduce electricity costs and ensure the competitiveness of Cameroon’s economy.
“The Nachtigal Project is one of the very few public-private partnerships (PPP) hydropower projects in Sub-Saharan Africa that will accelerate Cameroon’s realization of its development goals, including poverty reduction”, She said.
Country’s electricity needs
The plant is expected to provide up to one-third of the country’s electricity needs. It will be located on the Sanaga River 65 km from the capital of Yaounde. Nacthigal Hydro Power Company has a 35-year lease to run the facility. Electricity will be transmitted to the capital via a 50-km-long transmission line.
Electricité de France (EDF) along with Cameroon’s government and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) are also supporting the construction and exploitation of the Nachtigal dam.
“By working for almost five years as co-developer of the project, the Nachtigal HPP is a great example of how IFC is using InfraVentures to help projects become a reality in Africa,” said Elisabeth.
Construction is scheduled to begin in October and the plant is to be commissioned in 2021 and will be the largest energy-generating infrastructure in Cameroon.
Cameroon’s Nachtigal Hydropower project receives US $188m boost
The Nachtigal Hydropower project in Cameroon has received US $188m from the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in guarantees from the IBRD, and investment, loan, and risk management swaps by IFC.
The Nachtigal Hydropower project is a 420MW hydropower plant located on the Sagana River, about 65km northeast of Yaounde. It is being developed on a build, own, operate, and transfer basis under a 35-year concession agreement between the project company and the Republic of Cameroon, and a power purchase agreement exists between the company and Energy of Cameroon (ENEO), a privately-owned electricity distribution company.
Addressing environmental and social concerns
MIGA has also provided breach of contract cover for up to 15 years to French power developer and operator EDF International, as well as STOA, a French infrastructure investment vehicle that focuses primarily on Africa.
The Nachtigal Hydropower will be connected to the Southern interconnected grid, which represents about 94% of Cameroon’s national electricity consumption. It will be a great boost to the country’s energy as it will contribute an extra 30% of installed generation capacity in Cameroon together with significant climate co-benefits. The project will also sell power to ENEO at a rate of US $0.070, among the lowest tariffs for a hydropower plant.
“As a project in an IDA-eligible country, as well as one with significant climate change mitigation benefits, I am pleased this project has mechanisms to help address environmental and social concerns, which are of utmost importance to MIGA,” said MIGA Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Keiko Honda.
As of 2015, total power generation in Cameroon reached 6,426 GWh, with a total installed capacity of 1,286 MW out of which hydropower accounts for about 60% of the total installed capacity. The country has the third-largest hydropower development potential in Sub-Saharan Africa, and forecasts estimate that hydropower will represent about 75% of the energy mix by 2023.
Cameroon plans to construct a 400 kV electricity transmission line from Nachtigal hydroelectric plant to Bafoussam which will eventually connect to the neighbouring Federal Republic of Nigeria. This was revealed by Gaston Eloundou Essomba, the Minister of Water and Energy through a tender notice he published asking for applications for the project manager position.
The line will link the 420 MW Nachtigal hydroelectric plant and its construction is set to be commissioned between October 2022 and October the following year, about the same time when the Nachtigal hydroelectric plant will be commissioned.
Other than the construction of the 400 kV transmission line, the project also includes the development of a 400/225/30/15 kV transformer substation, extension of the Nachtigal Bafoussam substations, construction of 90 kV lines between Nachtigal-Bafia, Bafoussam-Baganté, Bafoussam-Foumbam and Bachtigal-Nkometou as well as the construction of 90, 30, 15 kV substations in Bafia, Bagangté and Foumbam.
Technical studies and the implementation of the project
According to the Minister of Water and Energy, the government of Cameroon has already appointed Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd, an Indian company, to carry out the technical studies and the construction of the infrastructure.
“So far the company has submitted the pilot design studies, launched the environmental and social studies, and started with the in-depth design studies. The declarations of public utility have already been obtained for the project sites as well and the operating specifications of the assessment and evaluation commissions are available,” noted Essomba.
The Nachtigal Hydroelectric plant
The Nachtigal hydropower plant is being developed in Nachtigal, Cameroon by Nachtigal Hydro Power Company (NHPC) under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model for a period of 35 years, following which the ownership will be transferred to the government of Cameroon.
Upon completion, the over US$1.2B Nachtigal power plant is projected to have the capacity to produce more than 2,900 GWh/year.
The government of Cameroon has confirmed the construction of the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam; the country’s biggest hydroelectric dam is well on course, with its commissioning slated for 2023. This is after Government officials visited the project site in the locality of Ndokoa in the Batchenga sub-division in the Lekie Division.
The air at the site was filled with the sounds of bulldozers, front-head loaders, graders, compactors, and other heavy-duty construction machinery. On-site are over 300 workers, a mix of engineers, technicians, and general labourers, carrying out grading and surfacing of the area to host the power plant and a temporal lodging facility.
Nachtigal hydroelectric project
According to Valarie Medje, one of the CCN construction staff on site, the construction site has been divided into 11 zones, of which five are active. The project involves the construction of roller-compacted concrete dams, a headrace channel, a power plant with seven generating units, a generation substation, and a 50.3km transmission line from Batchenga to Nyom II in Yaounde.
Augusto Soares dos Reis, General Manager of the Nachtigal Hydro Power Company (NHPC), mentioned that works on the project will progress without any delay until its completion and commissioning by 2023. General Manager also confirmed that they have secured enough financing for the project totalling US$1.36bn and as such, there is no worry over funding.
Upon completion, the plant will become Cameroon’s largest HEP dam and will inject 420MW of electricity into the national grid.
The Nachtigal HEP dam will be constructed on the River Sanaga at the Nachtigal waterfall. The dam is being constructed and will be managed by NHPC. The company’s shares are owned by: Electricité de France (EDF) 40%, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) 20%, the Government of Cameroon 15%, the African Development Bank (AfDB) 15%, and STOA Infra & Energy 10%.
Justin Ntsama, the director of construction of the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam project has revealed that the 225 KV Nachtigal hydroelectric dam transmission line will be delivered before the end of July this year. Entrusted to Bouygues Energies & Services, the construction of the aforementioned line which is approximately 50.8 kilometres long began early last year.
This infrastructure will allow the energy produced at the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam to be injected into the South interconnected network that covers six of the Central African country’s 10 regions (except for the three northern and eastern regions).
The transmission line is equipped with 123 pylons measuring 10 to 80 tonnes, and 40 to 65 meters high. The installation of the first of the 123 pylons of this energy transmission line, started on September 11 last year and was completed ten days later according to Nachtigal Hydro Power Company (NHPC), a consortium formed by EDF, the World Bank IFC Group institution, and the State of Cameroon to oversee the implementation of the project.
About the Nachtigal Hydroelectric dam
With an investment totalling up to close to US$ 1.5M, the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam should inject its first megawatts into the Cameroonian electricity network in 2023.
Ultimately, this infrastructure will make it possible to increase the energy capacities currently installed in the country by a third, and improve and secure people’s access to electricity while contributing to the country’s low-carbon transition.
The increase in the country’s electricity production capacity will enable the central African country to become an electricity exporter in the sub-region in the medium and long term, contributing to its economy.
Overall, the project is currently about 33% complete with the electromechanical works 33% done, the transmission line 71% complete, and the operating city 64% complete.
Work has effectively resumed on the construction site of the Nachtigal hydroelectric power plant project on the Sanaga River, in Cameroon, according to the Minister of Water and Energy, Gaston Eloundou Essomba, and his colleague from Labor and Social Security, Grégoire Owona.
Work had been severely disrupted in recent weeks after workers deserted the site, demanding better working conditions. Their return is proof that the resolutions taken during a meeting between the project stakeholders on March 12, 2021, have been implemented.
Progress made so far
During a visit to the Nachtigal hydroelectric power plant project site on April 16. 2021, the two ministers assessed the state of progress of the work done so far and reported that the cumulative advancement rate to date is 38%. In detail, the electromechanical work is 33% done, the transmission line is 71% complete, and the operating city is 64% complete.
The construction manager assured us that the site is particularly active despite the mood swing recorded and that at the end of the year, they will be able to complete all the conventional concrete structures that are on the left bank. This includes the canal water intake, the spillway, and the temporary diversion sluices.
“During the same period, we will also start the main roadblock and we will also have made significant progress on the installation of equipment. The goal is to put the first turbine into service in February 2023 and the seventh in March the following year”, he elaborated.
Expectations for the project
Led by the Nachtigal Hydro Power Company (NHPC), which is a consortium formed by EDF, the World Bank IFC Group institution, and the State of Cameroon, the Nachtigal hydroelectric project is a national priority to secure the Central African country’s electricity system.
It will improve and secure people’s access to electricity while contributing to the country’s low-carbon transition. The increase in the country’s electricity production capacity will enable Cameroon to become an electricity exporter in the sub-region in the medium and long term contributing to its economy.
In the framework of the Nachtigal Hydropower project, Nachtigal Hydro Power Company (NHPC) is developing a 20-hectare housing project in Batschenga, a town, and commune in the central region of Cameroon, for the Nachtigal dam operating staff.
The project, the cost of which according to Justin Ntsama, the construction manager for NHPC, is close to US$ 40M will not only include the construction of houses but also amenities needed to ensure the well-being of the staff and their families such as schools, retail spaces, health centres, as well as leisure and entertainment centres.
Constituted by the Cameroonian State (15%), the French energy firm EDF Energy (40%), the International Finance Corporation-IFC (20%), as well as investment funds Africa50 (15%) and Stoa Infra &Energy (10%), NHPC is the consortium in charge of the implementation of the Nachtigal Hydropower project.
In particular, the company was created to design, fund, and build the 420MW Nachtigal Hydropower plant which is reported the largest electricity infrastructure to be built in Central Africa country.
Overview of the Nachtigal Hydropower Project
Mainly, the project consists of the construction of two concrete dams on the Sanaga River at the level of the Nachtigal Upstream Falls in the Batchenga, Obala, and Mbadjock districts, approximately 65km northeast of Yaoundé to create a reservoir. Other works include the construction of a concrete-lined canal, a hydroelectric power plant, a secondary power plant, and a transmission line.
The implementation of the project began in 2018 and it was expected to be operational in 2023. However, due to work delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Nachtigal dam is now expected to enter into commercial exploitation (commissioning of all of its seven plants) in March 2024, four months after the initial schedule.
Nachtigal Hydroelectric Power Project in Cameroon Over 51.7% Complete
The ongoing Nachtigal Hydroelectric Power Project that is located on the Sanaga River near the Nachtigal Falls, approximately 65km north-east of Yaoundé in Cameroon, is over 51.7% complete according to Gaston Eloundou Essomba, the Central African country’s Minister of Water and Energy.
The minister made the revelation when he recently visited the project site. He said that as of the end of November 2021, 52% of the projects civil engineering lot, 48.2% of the first electromechanical lot, 99.8% of the transmission line lot, and 88.6% of the ‘staff housing estate’ lot,” was complete.
“As we speak, the transmission line lot that comprises a 225kV substation and a 50.3km-long double-circuit transmission line, which will be used to transfer the electricity generated at the power plant to the Nyom 2 substation, is already complete,” he explained.
The first turbine at Nachtigal Hydroelectric Power Project to start operations in July 2023 and the last in July 2024
Following the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that caused between eight and nine months of delay in the implementation of the Nachtigal Hydroelectric Power Project, in addition to strikes organized by workers demanding an improvement in their working conditions, the original calendar for the project was amended.
As a result, the first turbine of the Nachtigal dam, which would have been operational by September 2022 is now expected to come online in July 2023, while the seventh and last turbine which would have come online by the end of 2023 is now expected in July 2024.
“We asked Nachtigal Hydro Power Company, the firm in charge of the construction works to make every possible effort to meet the new deadline,” said Gaston Eloundou Essomba.
Upon completion, the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam, which is the largest energy infrastructure ever built in Cameroon, will generate over 2,900 GWh yearly.
Funds Secured for Nachtigal-Bafoussam Power Line Construction
The project for the construction of the US$ 173.36M 400 KV Nachtigal-Bafoussam power line is set to receive a US$ 164.69M shot in the arm in the form of a loan. The line will reportedly aid in the distribution of electricity generated by the Nachtigal hydroelectric plant to big production basins in the West and North-West regions, as well as close the loop of the South Interconnected Network.
The loan will be provided by the government of India under the terms of an agreement signed by the Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Alamine Ousmane Mey, and the Central Africa Regional Representative of Eximbank-India, Selva Kumar, in Yaounde.
India has so far provided Cameroon with funding that covers 95% of the total cost of the Nachtigal-Bafoussam power line project.
An Overview of the Nachtigal-Bafoussam power line project
The Nachtigal-Bafoussam power line project was announced in 2020 by Gaston Eloundou Essomba, the Minister of Water and Energy through a tender notice published asking for applications for the project manager position.
Set to be commissioned between October 2022 and October the following year, approximately the same time when the Nachtigal hydroelectric plant will be commissioned, the Nachtigal-Bafoussam power line project is centred on the construction of the 400 kV electricity transmission line that starts from the Nachtigal hydroelectric plant to Bafoussam and eventually to the neighbouring Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It, however, includes other works including the development of a 400/225/30/15 kV transformer substation, extension of the Nachtigal Bafoussam substations, construction of 90 kV lines between Nachtigal-Bafia, Bafoussam-Baganté, Bafoussam-Foumbam and Bachtigal-Nkometou as well as the construction of 90, 30, 15 kV substations in Bafia, Bagangté and Foumbam.
Expectations for the project
The project, according to the Ministry of Water and Energy, aims to improve access to electric power in many areas, promote electrical interconnection with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as well as make energy evacuation from future production sources such as the Nachtigal, Song Dong, and Grand Eweng hydroelectric dams easier.
The project will also address the issue of ensuring and improving the dependability of the power supply in the centre and western areas, boosting the rate of electricity delivery in the western and northwest regions, and multiplying the sites of injection of energy generated in Nachtigal.
Construction of the Nachtigal hydroelectric power plant staff housing estate in Cameroon complete
The construction of the Nachtigal hydroelectric power plant staff housing estate in Cameroon is complete. This comes approximately ten months after the completion of the project’s transmission line in August 2021.
The 18.52-hectare housing estate is an essential component of the Nachtigal hydroelectric power plant project. It is intended to accommodate workers in charge of operating the facility as soon as it is put into operation in 2024.
Features and amenities of the Nachtigal hydroelectric power plant staff housing estate
The housing estate includes a total of 63 villas ranging from type F2 to F5 and 110 room guest house. In addition, the estate features a building for maintenance workers, a military post, 2 sentry boxes, and 6 watchtowers. Moreover, there is one building for drinking water supply, a room for the MV/LV substation and 2 generators, and 1 water tower with a capacity of 30m3.
The estate occupants will enjoy facilities such as a medical centre, a restaurant, a commissary, and a leisure centre. This will be complemented by a general road, water, and electricity supply system, a stormwater sanitation system, and a general wastewater collection and treatment system. Furthermore, there will be a general telecommunication system and sports courts for football, tennis volleyball petanque and basketball.
S.G.C (Societe Generale de Construction) built the Nachtigal hydroelectric power plant housing estate.