The World Bank has approved a US$500 million credit to develop Niger Basin water resources, including aid to rehabilitate the 760-MW Kainji and 540-MW Jebba hydroelectric projects.
The World Bank said July 3 the program is to achieve a sustainable increase in water resources productivity, boost hydropower generation, and foster economic growth in the riparian countries. The program includes rehabilitation, optimization, and development of regional water infrastructure including the strategic selection and planning of new dams.
The bank said the program will be divided into two phases spanning 12 years. The first phase focuses on funding for five of the nine Niger Basin countries, those that are on the Niger River main stem: Benin US$9 million, Mali US$18 million, Nigeria US$135 million, Guinea US$9 million, and Niger US$15 million. The second phase will include the remaining four countries, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, and Cote d’Ivoire.
Mark Tomlinson, World Bank director for regional integration in Africa, said the project would start with renovation of the Kainji and Jebba hydropower plants in Nigeria that are crucial for power supply to Benin and Niger. Upgrading those plants will help address chronic power shortages in the region, Tomlinson added.
“A big chunk of supply to Niger and Benin comes from those two power stations, which fell into physical disrepair through the military period in Nigeria when the power sector did not get any capital at all,” Tomlinson explained.
In anticipation of receiving the World Bank funding, Power Holding Co. of Nigeria has invited expressions of interest by July 16 from consultants to review and update technical specifications for rehabilitation of Kainji. (HNN 6/27/07)
Although the bulk of the World Bank funding will go toward restoring power facilities in Nigeria and a number of smaller sites elsewhere, 30 percent of the financing will help improve water resource management and protect sensitive environmental areas.
�In a rare occasion on international waters negotiations, and despite the stakes, the riparian countries embraced the vision of hydro-brotherhood with the amazing positive role of Nigeria, instead of the usual hydropolitics and associated competition,� Ousmane Dione, the World Bank task team leader for the project, said.
The Niger River is the third longest river in Africa, with a basin area of nearly 1.5 million kilometers. Only a fifth of its hydropower potential has been tapped, with only 20 percent of irrigable land developed and only 30 of the 200 billion cubic meters of annual river flow stored.