China has upgraded one hydropower plant in blackout-prone Guinea and plans to modernize another, state radio and diplomatic sources say.
State radio said July 19 the Guinean government took possession of 3.4-MW Kinkon Dam at Pita after a US$2.5 million overhaul and upgrade. The work at Kinkon, 400 kilometers north of the capital Conakry, increased the hydro plant’s capacity from 3 MW.
Diplomatic sources in Conakry said China was planning to renovate another hydropower plant at Tinkisso in the east of the country. China has ramped up investment and diplomatic activity in Africa as it seeks new supplies of energy and raw materials to fuel its fast-growing economy.
In December, a Greek company, 3PL, which has a joint bauxite exploration venture in Guinea with Aluminium Corp. of China Ltd. (Chalco), said it had signed a deal to build a 1.2 million ton aluminum refinery in northeast Guinea. An aluminum plant would require significant energy resources but it was not immediately clear whether the dam overhauls were linked to that development.
The government says it has spent about US$500 million on its power grid and new diesel generators in recent years, but Conakry and other towns still face frequent power blackouts, which have been exacerbated by high fuel prices.