Nachtigal dam injects its first MW into Cameroon’s power grid

Afrik 21 | Several members of Cameroon’s government attended the commissioning of the first turbine of the Nachtigal hydroelectric scheme in the center of the country on Friday, May 10, 2024. This first unit has a capacity of 60 MW.

This is it! After five years of work, the Nachtigal hydroelectric scheme is starting to inject electricity into Cameroon’s national grid. The commissioning ceremony for the plant’s first turbine took place on Friday, May 10, 2024, in the presence of several members of the Cameroon government, including Water and Energy Minister Gaston Eloundou Essomba and Louis-Paul Motaze, his counterpart in charge of Finance.

The first unit injects 60 MW into the Réseau Interconnecté Sud (RIS), which supplies the Centre, South, Littoral, West, North-West and South-West regions. The Nachtigal dam “reinforces Cameroon’s electricity production capacity to meet the needs of industry and households”, said Minister Gaston Eloundou Essomba.

Selling electricity to Chad by 2027

While some observers fear the risks of grid saturation, the Cameroonian authorities are trying to reassure them by pointing out that some of the electricity produced will be exported to neighboring countries. As part of the Cameroon-Chad Power Grid Interconnection Project (PIRECT), Yaoundé plans to sell 100 MW of electricity to Chad by 2027.

After the first 60 MW have been injected, “the other six units of the Nachtigal hydroelectric power plant will be progressively commissioned”, to reach a total capacity of 420 MW by December 2024, according to the Cameroon Ministry of Water and Energy. The plant will enable Cameroon to increase its electricity generation capacity by 30%.

The facility will be operated by the special-purpose company Nachtigal Hydro Power Company (NHPC), owned by Électricité de France (EDF, 40%), the International Finance Corporation (IFC, 20%), the State of Cameroon (15%), the Africa50 investment platform (15%) and the French asset manager STOA Infra & Energy. These shareholders have mobilized 1.2 billion euros for the Nachtigal hydroelectric scheme, which comprises a 1.455 km dam on the Sanaga River and a 3.3 km feeder canal, located 70 km from the political capital Yaoundé.

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