Cameroon’s Lom Pangar Project Set to Harness Hydropower Potential of the Sanaga River and Boost Electricity Generation
July 23, 2014
- Cameroon possesses tremendous hydropower potential with the Sanaga River Basin alone representing half of this untapped potential.
- Construction of the Lom Pangar hydropower dam is aimed at boosting Cameroon’s electricity generation capacity and reducing seasonal fluctuations of water flow in the Sanaga River.
- By considerably increasing the supply of electricity to the Cameroonian households and businesses, the project will stimulate the country’s economic development.
EDEA, July 23, 2014 – Every morning, Rose Bassong, a cassava vendor in Edea, a town located 171 kilometers from Yaoundé along the Sanaga river, sets off at dawn to buy wood to heat water and prepare meals for her family. Rose has to resort to firewood as she does not have access to an electric stove or water heater.
“It is not easy to get up so early, collect fresh water and prepare meals, and make sure that my three children are ready in time for school. My daughter has to help me so that everything is ready on time, even though she too goes to school,” she says, letting out a sigh.
However, Rose lives in a region that has the oldest hydropower plant in the country, built in the 1950s. Despite the presence of this facility, electricity is expensive and power outages are a daily occurrence—there can be repeated outages for several hours in just one week.
The Lom Pangar project meets the immediate needs of the people of Cameroon and the national economy.
Although Cameroon possesses immense hydropower potential (12,000 MW), power outages and the high cost of electricity have reduced GDP growth by 1 to 2% per year, according to World Bank estimates. The number of households connected to the power grid remains very low—less than 14% in rural areas, and 57% in urban areas.
Construction of the Lom Pangar dam is intended to tackle chronic energy shortages by boosting hydropower production in Cameroon and reducing seasonal fluctuations of water flow in the Sanaga River. It will also store water during the rainy season and release it during the dry season, thus increasing the hydropower generation capacity of the Sanaga River by roughly 40% per year.
Built on the Lom river in eastern Cameroon—roughly 4 kilometers downstream from the confluence with the Pangar River, and 13 kilometers upstream from the confluence with the Sanaga River—this regulating dam will also lead to a 120 MW increase in the permanent production capacity of two existing power plants, Edea and Song Loulou.
The Lom Pangar Hydropower Project is backed by $132 million in funding from the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Central African States Development Bank (BDEAC), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and the Government of Cameroon.
A visit by the World Bank’s Vice President for the Africa Region, Makhtar Diop, to the Lom Pangar dam construction site attests to the World Bank’s commitment to effective implementation of this key project.
“The Lom Pangar project meets the immediate needs of the people of Cameroon and the national economy,” states Gregor Binkert, World Bank Country Director for Cameroon. “It symbolizes Cameroon’s resolve to become an economic power, given that sustainable access to energy is a prerequisite for private sector-led growth.”
The first filling of the dam is expected to take place by September 2015. This will facilitate the storage of almost three billion cubic meters of water, guaranteeing an additional 70 MW for the two hydropower plants located along the Sanaga River during the 2016 dry season.
For Rose, the dam’s construction will be life changing. “With the completion of the Lom Pangar project, we are looking forward to the Edea power plant operating more efficiently, leading to fewer outages and lower electricity costs,” she says with anticipation.
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