Congo Republic awards four hydro project contracts

The government of the Congo Republic (CR) has approved awarding four hydropower contracts to South African companies.

The Council of Ministers approved a deal October 9 for Old Mutual Properties, a division of South African insurance giant Old Mutual, to finance the building of the Sounda hydroelectric project in Kouilou Department of southern CR, and the Chollet project in Sangha Department of northwest CR, near the Cameroon border. Full capacity of Sounda is expected to exceed 1,000 MW, while Chollet is expected to be 600 MW.

The council also approved awards to South Africa’s Clackson Power Co. for the construction of a second hydro plant at Djoue near the capital Brazzaville, and to construct the Liouesso hydropower project on Sangha River in the north. The second Djoue plant, near the existing 15-MW Djoue plant, is expected to be about 30 MW.

Planned investment amounts were not disclosed.

CR envisions hydro-powered “energy highway”

Officials said the hydroelectric projects form part of a government strategy to establish an “energy highway” carrying electricity between the south and north. Coupled with other projects, they aim to install more than 2,000 MW to make Congo Republic the second biggest power producer in central Africa, after the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with its giant Inga facility. (HNN 10/9/06)

Chinese companies are already building the 120-MW Imboulou hydro project north of Brazzaville, which is to be operational in 2009.

The Sounda Gorge project has been planned for several decades. With South African financing, work began in 1996 under then President Pascal Lissouba but was interrupted by a civil war. The plan originally was conceived to provide power to extract magnesium from local reserves of carnallite ore.

Magnesium producer MagIndustries, which is developing the 60,000-ton-per-year Kouilou Magnesium Project in Pointe Noire, CR, originally studied building a 360-MW Kouilou hydroelectric project to power the magnesium plant. However, the prospect of favorable energy costs prompted MagIndustries to participate in rehabilitating the Inga project in the DRC instead. (HNN 5/23/06)

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