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African nations seek international partners for power infrastructure development

African nations seek international partners for power infrastructure development

Several African countries are looking for international companies to assist in developing their electrical infrastructures. Combined, these countries are considered to have more than (US)$2 billion in projects available, according to the US Trade and Development Agency, which recently held a business briefing featuring a dozen African countries, including: Benin, Botswana, Malawi, Morocco, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


Benin has two central organizations charged with overseeing the generation and distribution of electricity.

One–Societe Beninoise d`Electricite e d`Eau–has a total rated capacity of 28 MW, generating in the largest city–Contonou–burning gas, diesel oil and fuel oil.

The second–Communaute Electrique du Benin–is a binational venture with neighboring Togo, purchasing and transmitting electricity from Ghana`s Volta River Authority hydroelectric site. Small diesel facilities are scattered throughout the less-populated central and northern regions.

In 1993, Benin had a total electricity consumption of 260 GWh, with maximum loads exceeding 45 MW. The governments of Benin and Togo are considering construction of an Adjarala river hydroelectric plant, to be sited 97 km downstream from Nagbeto on the Mono River in Benin. This proposed 60-MW plant would include a dam, powerhouse and related transmission lines.

Simple-cycle, gas-fired turbines are a recommended technology for breaking into this market, because they are considered a relatively clean technology. Benin is considering taking some debt equity in power projects. The country is viewed favorably by both the World Bank and the US Export-Import (EXIM) bank.


Botswana has announced plans for Mmamabula coal-fired power plant. The first phase, consisting of two 600-MW units, is expected to come on-line as soon as 1998, with plans for the station to eventually double to 2,400 MW. Botswana plans to use conventional, pulverized-coal-fired boilers with air-cooled mechanical draught condensers.

Fuel would be coal from the Mmamabula coal fields. The government is considering some equity financing; but a variety of options are available, including export credits, World Bank or African Development Bank funding, private partners, or the International Finance Corp.

Botswana currently has an installed capacity of 197 MW. Approximately 75 percent of the total electricity in this country is used by the copper and diamond mining industries.

The country is developing an extended rural-electrification strategy, with ongoing projects being extended to serve the needs of farmers in the Tuli Block on the Limpopo River. The government is in the midst of a major housing project and land servicing program to provide 23,000 housing units in the next five years. This program is expected to have a major impact on energy demand in the coming years.


All base-load electricity in Malawi comes from hydroelectric plants operated by the Electrical Supply Commission (ESCOM). Its gas turbines and diesel units are for standby use only. In 1991, ESCOM`s hydro capacity was 146 MW. Thermal units added another 23 MW. Another 2 MW of diesel is sited in the northern tip of the country, and self-generators are estimated to have 24 MW of capacity from steam plants, diesels and two small hydro stations.

Malawi is now looking to build Kapachire Hydroelectric power project, with a planned commissioning date of 1998. The project includes a dam at the head of the Kapachire falls, a power tunnel bypassing the falls and a surface powerhouse set in a deep tailrace channel. The powerhouse will accommodate four 32-MW units.

The 128-MW project is expected to be financed through a combination of World Bank, other investment banks and government funding.

Current demand for electricity is 130 MW at peak, but it is expected to jump to 250 MW by 1999.


Morocco is planning to convert Kenitra and Mohammedia power plants from No. 2 fuel oil to natural gas. Kenitra has four 75-MW units, and Mohammedia has two 150-MW units and three 33-MW units. The plants would use gas from the Maghreb-European pipeline. World Bank and EXIM have indicated interest in financing this project.

Rural Morocco is almost totally without electricity, but the Office National de l`Electricity (ONE) is working to extend service to 2,000 villages. ONE is exploring a variety of resources in an effort to meet an estimated 7-percent growth in demand. A four-unit, 1,200-MW steam station is being constructed and will enter service by 1999.

Three 100-MW combustion turbines are scheduled for completion in the coming months, and an expansion of eight 330-MW units is being planned for Jorf Lasfar station.

The government has announced plans to spend (US)$1 billion on the power sector in the coming year and has invited the private sector for equity-participation.


Tanzania`s electricity is primarily hydro-power, and the country is experiencing generation shortfalls in drought or dry weather conditions. Some diesel-powered units are available, but they are expensive to operate and drain the country`s foreign exchange reserves. The government is exploring plans to use its indigenous coal to generate electricity. Tanzania has coal reserves estimated between 300 million tons and 1,200 million tons. The government wants to build a 400-MW thermal station, near Mchuchuma/Katewaka coal field.

Tanzania is a light electrical consumer, with installed capacity of 482 MW, of which 445 MW is in the interconnected grid system and 37 MW in isolated generating stations. The grid transmits 328 MW of hydro power and 117 MW of diesel power.

This country implemented an economic reform program almost a decade ago; and between 1986 and 1991, demand for electricity grew at an annual average of 10.2 percent, with peak demand rising at 7.85 percent. The national economy is sustaining recovery, and the government is assuming that electricity demand growth will maintain this trend. Demand is projected at 650 MW by 2000, rising to 825 MW by 2005.


Zanzibar is currently part of Tanzania, receiving power through undersea high-voltage transmission lines to Mtoni receiving station. The transmission lines are more than 10 years old, and Tanzania has a power shortage during its dry season. Power shortages in Tanzania have caused severe power interruptions in Zanzibar. Zanzibar has peak electricity demand of 14 MW. It is seeking large capacity and small modular generators using fossil fuels. The African Development Bank is funding the upgrade of the country`s distribution system and is considering funds for installing additional capacity projects. The World Bank is also considering funding the projects. Zanzibar`s peak requirement is expected to escalate to around 24 MW by 2003.


Zambia is looking to expand its hydroelectric capacity through Kafue Gorge Lower Hydroelectric Plant. Hydroelectricity is the leading source of power in Zambia. It has seven hydro facilities, totaling more than 1,670 MW, and these have made the Zambia Electricity Supply Corp. an exporter of electrical power. The main stations are: Kafue Gorge Upper, 900 MW; Kariba North, 600 MW; and Victoria Falls, 108 MW.

The proposed Kafue Gorge Lower Hydroelectric Project would be sited in the Kafue Gorge, about 65 km south of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. The Kafue River drops about 600 m in a distance of 30 km to join the Zambezi River below the Kariba Dam. The upper 400 m of this was developed in 1976 to produce the Kafue Gorge Upper site. The proposed project would use the remaining 200 m of the available head. The World Bank and the African Development Bank are considering funding for this project.


Zimbabwe is planning to upgrade Hwange power station, its largest coal-fueled station. It is a minemouth power plant with four 110-MW units and two 220-MW units, with a total nameplate-rated capacity of 980 MW. Power is delivered to the country`s transmission system through a 330-kV transmission interconnection. The Zimbabwe Electric Supply Authority (ZESA) has sole responsibility for generation, transmission and distribution of electricity there.

In 1998, ZESA determined that two 220-MW units were needed to meet the growing demand on the system and to reduce dependence on imported power. Zimbabwe is importing nearly 10 percent of its power from Zambia, but Zambia plans to decrease its power exports. ZESA has installed capacity of 1,930 MW.

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