- The Gambia River Basin Development Organisation (OMVG) is embarking on a major infrastructure project to reduce power shortages in the member countries; The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal. The project includes hydroelectric power plants in Senegal and Guinea and a regional integration of power grids in the four countries.
A hydro-electric study for the benefit of the Gambia River Basin Development Organisation (OMVG) countries is now to be launched. The study is to prepare for the development of the region's largely unexploited energy potential.
A larger production of hydropower is set to help end the persistent problems of power shortage and the heavy dependence on imported petroleum products for the production of electricity. The energy situation in The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal is also believed to improve through the inter-connection of the sub-regional power grids.
Two large dams are planned in the region as part of the project. The first is located at Sambangalou, a village in southern Senegal at River Gambia. The second dam will be at Kaléta, on the Konkouré River in central Guinea. The larger of the two projects is the Sambangalou dam, which will have a capacity of 400 Gigawatt hours (GWH).
The project foresees that these two new hydroelectric power plants are connected to a new regional network. The plant at Kaléta (Guinea) will be connected to the nearby Guinean town of Mamou and to the Bissau-Guinean capital, Bissau. The Sambangalou plant (Senegal) will further connect to The Gambia's capital, Banjul.
Works on this integrated hydro-electric power grid are to start later this year. In addition to the dams and power plants in Senegal and Guinea, the construction of 225 kilovolts (KV) power lines connecting the plants and the four countries are part of the project. The works are projected to finish in late 2007.
The OMVG, which was established in 1978, despite its misleading name executes regional development projects relative to three river basins in the member countries. These include River Gambia, which starts in Guinea, passes through Senegal and reaches the ocean in The Gambia. But it also includes the basin of River Géba (name in Guinea-Bissau) or Kayanga (name in Senegal) and River Corubal (Guinea-Bissau) or Koliba (Guinea).
The so-called "Multinational Electric Power Grids" project, which is to be executed by the OMVG, today received further financing from the Tunis-based African Development Fund (ADF). A grant of US$ 5.35 million is to finance a hydro-electric study the region's largely unexploited energy potential.
Specifically, the study is to detail and prepare the bidding documents for the Sambangalou and Kaléta hydroelectric power schemes and the interconnection of the power grids of the four countries. The ADF hopes that commercial actors may soon be found to execute the well-prepared project.
According to the ADF, the large-scale infrastructure project will promote electric power trade between the countries through the pool that will be created and increase the reliability of energy supply in the region.
It is also hoped that the project will lead to a reduction in production costs and prices, "through sharing of the reserve and economies of scale, and consequently, increased competitiveness of the enterprises and economies of OMVG countries." It should further give an opportunity for pooling energy resources, in particular the abundant but unequally distributed hydro-electric power among the member countries.
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