Cote d’Ivoire’s biggest hydropower dam currently under construction is expected to come online a year earlier than expected. The Soubré hydropower dam, with a capacity of 275 MW, will come online in 2017, a year earlier than expected. Originally, September 2018 was set as the completion date for the massive project.
Launched in 2013, the project which should have been completed in 2018 is 30% away from completion according to work assessment that a technical delegation recently carried out. Sobre Dam is located upstream around the natural falls of the Sassandra River, the infrastructure is constructed by Chinese firm Sinohydro. It costs FCFA338 billion (about $568 million) of which 85% were financed by China and 15% by Cote d’Ivoire.
The dam’s construction falls under government’s energy policy which aims to increase national capacity by 100% to 4,000 MW by 2020 from 2,000 MW currently. To achieve this, the government plans to build additional dams in Louaga (283 MW), Boutoubré (156 MW), Tiboto (220 MW) and Tayaboui (100 MW). Thermal stations will also be built in Abata (370 MW), Grand-Bassam (370 MW) and Songon (370 MW), which could see its capacity boosted to 1,000 MW in the long term.
It was on Feb. 25, 2013, when President Alassane Dramane Ouattara led an array of local officials to a formal ground breaking ceremony of Soubré Hydropower Project held on the project.
During the ceremony, President Ouattara, along with the Chinese Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire, Mr. Zhang Guoqing, and SINOHYDRO representatives – buried the first foundation stone, kicking off construction activities.
The 274 MW Soubré is the largest hydropower project in Cote d’Ivoire. The project, not only helped built public facilities and boosted local employment during this construction phase, but it will also effectively cut down the country’s power importation costs after completion, bringing real benefits to the local people, assured the Ivorian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan during a visit to the site recently to assess the progress of work since the first stroke officially launched on February 25th 2013.
“I can safely say, with regard to the progress of the work, that this challenge is about to be released,” said Mr. Kablan Duncan. While welcoming the speed in the project execution, the Prime Minister sees the probable delivery in 2017 instead of September 2018 as the previously set date of completion.
During his visit, he visited project areas including the spillway, dikes, plant water intake, tailrace, housing, the housing construction managers and workers, displaced populations, and water treatment plant.
Soubré dam, 4.5 km long, stands as the most powerful and the largest sub regional center power generation with an estimated capacity of 275 MW and annual energy production of 1,100 gigawatt hours (GWh).
Since 2012, the national government took some actions, including undertaking construction projects to increase the capacity of Côte d’Ivoire energy to about 4,000 MW by 2020 and 6,000 MW by 2030.
The project involves the construction of 14 new high-voltage substations, rehabilitation of 13 high-voltage substations, construction of 1555 km of transmission lines and supply of electrical equipment besides the electrification of 500 rural communities.
The challenge for the country is to sustain its growth and achieve its goal of being self-sufficient and an exporter of electricity in the West African sub-region. Already, Côte d’Ivoire is providing electricity to Ghana, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali. The TRANSCO CLSG interconnection project runs from Cote d’Ivoire to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.