A contract was signed on 26 February by Hamed Diane Séméga, the OMVS’s High Commissioner, and Ding Zhenguo, the CEO of Sinohydro at a ceremony held in Conakry in the presence of the President of Guinea, Alpha Condé, and Cheik Taliby Sylla, Minister for Energy and Hydraulics, and current president of the OMVS’s council of ministers.
The US$ 812 million project, in the department of Tougué in the Labé region, on the river Bafing, about 7.5 km upstream of its confluence with the river Senegal, will be built by the Chinese state hydropower engineering and construction group under an engineering, construction and procurement contract, financed by the Exim Bank of China. Construction of the project is expected to begin before the end of the first half of 2019, and take four years. The project will feature an 87 m-high, 1.3 km-long dam, which will impound a reservoir with a maximum storage capacity of 3.6 x 109 m3, and a powerhouse equipped with four units, which will generate an estimated average annual output of 888 GWh from an expected flow rate of 448 m3/s. The project will also entail the construction of two 225 kV high-voltage lines with a total cumulative length of approximately 600 km. One of the lines will transport power to Conakry through the sub-regional interconnection substation in Linsan and the second to the Manantali dam in Mali. They will connect the Guinean electricity grid to the OMVS network, called the Manantali Interconnected Grid (RIMA). OMVS will sell the electricity generated by Koukoutamba to Senegal’s state power utility Société d’Electricité du Sénégal (Senelec), Electricité de Guinée (EDG), the Mauritanian Electricity Corporation (Somelec) and Energie du Mali (EDM). The project will also help regulate water flows in the Senegal river, to the benefit of activities related to agriculture, navigation, the supply of drinking water, fishing and the preservation of the basin’s ecosystems, according to the OMVS.
Koukoutamba will be the fourth and largest hydropower plant to be developed by OMVS, following the commissioning in 2002 of the 200 MW Manantali plant on the river Bafing in Mali and the 62 MW Félou scheme on the Senegal river in Mali, which entered service in 2014. The 140 MW Gouina run-of-river plant, on the river Senegal, downstream of the Manantali dam, is under construction.
Three other hydro plants are planned in the medium term by the OMVS on Guinean territory, as well as about 20 micro-power sites for rural electrification. The OMVS infrastructure programme is designed to harness about 67 per cent of the total hydropower capacity of the Senegal river basin, which is estimated at about 2000 MW. In addition to helping meet growing electricity demand in the four member countries, the investment programme is expected to generate annual savings of about CFA francs 240 billion on the member states’ oil import bills. OMVS currently generates power from the Manantali and Felou plants, which is supplied through the Manantali Interconnected Grid.