Hydroelectric Power Plants in West Africa 



Location: Ghana
Operator: Volta River Authority
Configuration: 5 X 165 MW Francis
Operation: 1965-1971
T/G supplier: Hitachi, Canadian General Electric
EPC: Kaiser Engineers & Constructors
Quick facts: This is the fourth largest conventional hydro plant in Africa.  The 134m rock-fill dam has a crest-length of 671m and impounds Lake Volta, one of the world's largest reservoirs. Development started in 1949 when the Gold Coast government commissioned Sir William Halcrow & Partners to examine development of the Volta River basin. Work got underway in 1959.  An extensive modernization effort is ongoing for the electro-mechanical equipment. 

Photograph courtesy of GLOWA Volta Project
Posted 18 Mar 2006

Location: Guinea
Operator: Electricite de Guinee
Configuration: 2 X 2.6 MW Kaplan
Operation: 1988
T/G supplier: Listroj, Koncar

Photograph courtesy of Koncar
Posted 3 Oct 2004


Location: Angola
Operator: Gabinete de Aproveitamento do Medio Kwanza
Configuration: 4 X 130 MW Francis
Operation: 2004-2007
T/G supplier: LMZ, Electrosila
EPC: Odebrecht, Furnas, COBA, Technopromexport
Quick facts: Capanda is Angola’s largest-ever civil engineering project and is on the Rio Kwanza at the border of Kwanza-Norte and Malanje provinces. Development started in 1982 and with $750mn from oil sales, Odebrecht, Furnas, and TPE started on the project in Jan 1985 with operation scheduled in 199. This soon slipped to Dec 1993 and the plant site was occupied by UNITA from Nov 1992 until Dec 1994. Then the 110m dam was damaged and rehabilitation did not start until 1998, a process interrupted by another attack in 1999. Construction re-started in Jan 2000. At one point, there were 3,000 workers mobilized at the site. A 2,000m aircraft runway was built along with power, potable water, and sewage facilities. Reservoir filling began in late Aug 2002 and the first two units were finally commissioned in June 2004 followed by Units 3&4 in June 2007. The plant is connected to the substation at Cambambe via a 120km, 220kV transmission line which cost $218mn. The cost of war damage to the project is estimated to be at least $400mn and the total project cost is thought to be around $2.6bn.

Photograph by Eribeto (wikipedia)
Re-posted 30 Aug 2008

Location: Guinea
Operator: Electricite de Guinee
Configuration: 2 X 7.5 MW Francis
Operation: 1969
T/G supplier: Listroj, Koncar
EPC: Energoprojekt, HIB Cyprus
Quick facts: This is part of a three-plant complex on the Samou River about 90km from Conakry. Partial financing was obtained from KfW. In 2006, VA TECH Hydro  and E.R.A I signed a contract to replace the speed governing systems with new digital equipment.

Photograph courtesy of Koncar
Posted 3 Oct 2004

Location: Cameroon
Operator: AES Sonel
Configuration: 3 X 11.4 MW Francis, 6 X 21.9 MW, 5 X 20 MW Kaplan
Operation: 1954-1975
T/G supplier: Voest, Alsthom-Jeumont
Quick facts: In 1948, Energie Electrique du Cameroun (Enelcam) was formed to develop the country’s first commercial-scale hydroelectric plant at Edea on the Sanaga River and the plant was initially completed in two phases, 35 MW in 1954 and 122 MW in 1958. In Dec 2008, Andritz was contracted to replace three sets at Edea I including mechanical and electrical auxiliaries.

Photograph courtesy of idapo.com
Posted 25 Jun 2008

Felou Weir
Location: Mali
Operator: Energie du Mali
Configuration: 680 kW
Operation: 1927
T/G supplier: ??
Quick facts: This is the site of a 60-MW regional hydroelectric project of OMVS. The existing equipment will be removed.

Photograph by Brian McMorro
Posted 24 Jan 2009

Location: Guinea
Operator: Electricite de Guinee
Configuration: 3 X 25 MW Francis
Operation: 1999
T/G supplier: CGE, GEC-Alsthom
EPC: EDF, Coyne et Bellier, Salini Construttori
Quick facts: Garafiri is near Souapiti on the Konkoure River. Planning got underway in 1984 and the site and feasibility studies were carried out by EDF International and Coyne et Bellier. In Jun 1989, the Guinean government gave the consortium the responsibility for detailed design and the drafting of tender documents. Most of this contract was financed by the Caisse Centrale de Cooperation Economique Francaise. Ultimately a rockfill dam with a storage capacity of 1.6bn m³ and a powerhouse were built at a cost of about $200mn. Garafiri suffered a variety of mechanical problems, including a serious breakdown in 2002, but the generating equipment has subsequently been refurbished.

Photograph courtesy of L’Institut de recherche pourle développement
Posted 10 Jan 2009


Location: Congo Republic
Operator: Societe Nationale d'Energie

Configuration: 4 X 30 MW Kaplan
Operation: 2009
T/G supplier: CMEC
Tianjin Investigation, Design and Research Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower, Dessau, Fichtner, Delegation Generale des Grands Travaux
Quick facts: In Aug 2001, CMEC signed a $236mn contract with SNE to build Imboulou 200km north of Brazzaville in Pool Dept. This was the largest bilateral trade deal ever between the two countries as well as China’s biggest hydroelectric plant export to Africa to that date. CMEC partnered with China International Enterprise Cooperative Corp on the deal. Financing is by oil-backed credit loans from the Export-Import Bank of China. In Mar 2003, the government and CMEC signed further agreements for the project, by then expected to cost $280mn. A 33m earthfill dam is under construction on the Lefini River 14km upstream of its confluence with the Congo River and a powerhouse on the right bank will house four Kaplan turbines. The scheme also includes the construction of a 220kV power transmission line Imboulou-Brazzaville, and Imboulou-Ngo plus additional lines at 110kV and 20kV in Cuvette Department. Construction was slowed by labor shortages and construction issues. Annual output is expected to be about 680 GWh.

Photograph courtesy of Delegation Generale des Grands Travaux
Posted 30 Aug 2008

Location: Congo
Operator: Societe Nationale d'Electricite
Configuration: 6 X 59 MW Francis, 8 X 178 MW
Operation: 1972
T/G supplier: Tosi, Ansaldo, Sulzer Escher Wyss, Westinghouse Canada
EPC: Ansaldo
Quick facts: Inga is in the far western DRC 225km southwest of Kinshasa. At the Inga Falls, the Congo river drops 96m and this is considered the largest waterfall complex in the world by volume. The two Inga plants were initiated by former Président Mobutu Sese Seko as part of the Inga-Shaba project. Two more plants are planned, Inga III at 4,500 MW and the immense 39-GW Grand Inga. Inga III is part of the Westcor scheme to interconnect the DRC, Namibia, Angola, Botswana, and South Africa. Grand Inga would cost $80bn or more and be the largest power plant in the world by far with annual generation of 250 TWh, not much less than a 50% increase for power generation on the whole continent, and sales as far north as Egypt. Theoretical combined output of Inga I and II is around 12.6 TWh/yr.

Photograph courtesy of MagEnergy
Re-posted 7 Sep 2008

Location: Mali
Operator: Societe de Gestion de l Energie de Manantali (OMVS)
Configuration: 5 X 40 MW Kaplan
Operation: 2002
T/G supplier: Sulzer
EPC: Tractebel, Tecsult, Fichtner
Quick facts: This power station is on a concrete irrigation dam completed in 1992 on the Senegal River. The dam has a 1,500m crest and a maximum height of 66m. The tender for the powerhouse project was issued in Sep 1993 and the turbines were ordered in 1996. The scheme includes two 225-kV transmission lines, one to Bamako and one to Dakar plus a 132kV transmission line to Nouakchott, substations and a dispatching center. Funding was from the World Bank the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, and assorted donors in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. At the time of the initial loans, the total cost for the completion of the hydroelectric power station and transmission system was estimated at $444mn. Later reports put the cost at more like $500mn. In July 2001, Eskom Enterprises signed a 15yr operation for Manantali. Mali receives 52% of the energy generated, Senegal 33%, and Mauritania 15%. The first turbine was put online in late 2001.

Photograph courtesy of Eskom Enterprises
Posted 26 Jan 2002

Location: Congo Republic
Operator: Societe Nationale d'Energie

Configuration: 4 X 18.5 MW Francis
Operation: 1979
T/G supplier: Harbin
EPC: Multipower Hydroelectric Development Corp
Quick facts: Moukoukoulou Dam is on the Bouenza River about half-way between Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Although the plant has a nominal capacity of 74 MW, firm capacity in the dry season is about 30 MW. In the spring of 2007, SNE recommissioned the Moukoukoulou power plant after repairing war damage which had reduced output by about two-thirds. The rehabilitation project cost $12mn and the associated transmission system was to be fully restored in the fall of 2007. The Mindouli Substation, a key link in the Moukoukoulou-Brazzaville transmission line, also awaits repair. The hydro plant rehabilitation was overseen by DGGT and the lead contractors were Zhenwei and Weihai International Economic Technical Cooperative (Weitc).

Photograph courtesy of Delegation Generale des Grands Travaux
Posted 30 Aug 2008


Mount Coffee
Location: Liberia
Operator: Liberia Electricity Corp
Configuration: 4 X 15 MW Francis
Operation: 1966-1975
T/G supplier: Allis Chalmers, BBC
EPC: Stanley Consultants, Raymond Concrete Pile Co
Quick facts: This plant is on the St Paul River and was extensively damaged and put out of service during the First Liberian Civil War and subsequent fighting. The plant is also known as Walter F Walker. It was built with a $24.3mn loan from the World Bank. A second phase with two 52-MW units was never started. The government hopes to rebuild the plant but a study funded by the US Trade and Development Agency found that the cost could be as much as $380mn leading to proposals to privatize the facility.

Photograph courtesy of West Africa Power Pool
Posted 7 Jan 2009

Location: Benin
Operator: Communaute Electrique du Benin (CEB)
Configuration: 2 X 33 MW Kaplan
Operation: 1987
T/G supplier: Sulzer, Siemens
EPC: Sogreah, Hochtief

Photograph courtesy of Hochtief AG
Posted 6 Mar 2005


Location: Namibia
Operator: NamPower
Configuration: 3 X 80 MW Francis
Operation: 1980
T/G supplier: Voest, WHC
Quick facts:
This the most important power plant in Namibia. After about five years of complex political negotiations, construction started in May 1973  The power station is situated at the Ruacana Waterfalls on the Kunene River which is regulated by a series of dams in Angola, most importantly the Gove Dam in the Angolan highlands approximately 1,000km northeast of the plant site. The powerhouse operates with a 134m head.

Photograph by Klaus Dierks
Posted 24 Nov 2005

Location: Congo
Operator: Societe Nationale d'Electricite
Configuration: 3 X 13 MW, 2 X 18 MW Francis
Operation: 1955-1965
T/G supplier: Vevey, Charmilles, ACEC
Quick facts: Eskom has signed a contract to rehabilitate the Zongo plant.

Photograph courtesy of Inland Energy Inc
Posted 12 Oct 2005

Abbreviations: BBC = Brown Boveri, CGE = Canadian Genral Electric, CMEC = China National Machinery Import and Export Corp, OMVS = Organisation de la Mise en Valeur du Fleuve Senegal, T/G = turbine generator, TPE = Technopromoexport, WHC = Westinghouse Canada

Data: industcards, Platts UDI World Electric Power Plants Data Base

Updated 01/24/09