Yaoundé - 13 April 2024 -

Full activation of Cameroon's Nachtigal dam postponed to December 2024

Full activation of Cameroon's Nachtigal dam postponed to December 2024
  • Comments   -   Wednesday, 03 April 2024 10:28

(Business in Cameroon) - The complete commissioning of the Nachtigal Dam, expected to supply all 420 MW of electricity anticipated from this energy infrastructure, will no longer occur in September 2024. This is a further delay compared with that initially announced by the Minister of Water and Energy, Gaston Eloundou Essomba, when the dam was initially to be filled on July 18, 2023.

According to internal sources at Nachtigal Hydro Power Company (NHPC), the entity overseeing this project, the dam's commissioning, which is set to boost Cameroon's current electricity production capacities by 30%, is now expected for December 2024. This delay is attributed to a three-month setback in channeling the hydroelectric plant's first megawatts into the national electricity grid, starting with the activation of the first 60 MW unit.

Initially scheduled for December 2023 and then postponed to February 2024, the start-up of the first of seven units is now anticipated "in the coming weeks." This schedule adjustment followed the National Electricity Transport Company (Sonatrel)'s issuance of the "energization certificate" to NHPC on March 14, 2024, enabling the introduction of Nachtigal Dam's initial megawatts into the national grid. "The delay in commissioning the first unit has consequently shifted the activation timelines for the remaining units," a reliable source said.

If the new December 2024 deadline is met, the Nachtigal Dam's full operation will allow Cameroon to smoothly navigate through the 2025 dry season, typically covering the year's first three months. Otherwise, the country may face power rationing again, as experienced at the start of this year. These electricity supply cuts, detrimental to both households and businesses, are usually enforced due to increased electricity production deficits, caused by lower water levels in hydroelectric dams during the dry season. This includes the Memve’élé Dam (211 MW), whose output often drops to zero megawatts at certain times of the day during this period.

To address this issue and regulate water flow in the Memve’élé Dam, the Cameroonian government plans to construct a holding dam on the Ntem River, which hosts this facility. Meanwhile, as the nation awaits the completion of this additional project, hopes for less severe dry seasons for Cameroon's electricity consumers are pinned on Nachtigal. With its installed capacity, this nearly CFA800 billion investment will become Cameroon's largest electricity-generating plant.

Furthermore, the Nachtigal Dam is expected to position Cameroon as the leading exporter of electric power in Central Africa, thanks to the Cameroon-Chad Electricity Networks Interconnection Project (Pirect), which will enable Cameroon to supply 100 MW of electricity to Chad by 2027.

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