EEPCo looks to win West African
Capital, (26 July 2009, Addis Ababa)-The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) recently participated in an international tender to manage the operation of the recently completed Bumbuna Hydroelectric Project (BHP) in Sierra Leone, which was constructed by Italian-based firm. Salini.
The state-owned power corporation has over a half century experience on the management of electric dams in land, but this interest in managing a site abroad is the first time in the history of the corporation.
Leonean National Power Authority (NPA ) has invited firms to operate and
maintain installations in accordance with internationally recognised best
practices. Furthermore, it wants to establish and implement a maintenance
program for all equipment and facilities, including the transmission system. An
emergency action plan also needs to be developed and implemented.
Other big international power companies were expected to show their interest in the tender that opened a month ago, but no one aside from the Ethiopian firm participated. Because of that, the NPA was forced to re-tender.
Mehiret Debebe, EEPCo, general manager, recently told Capital they are waiting the final result of the tender.
According to the
corporation expert, this kind of investment will contribute to earning foreign
currency. In the event of winning the contact, over 40 professionals and other
EEPCo employee will go to the West African nation, according to the
EEPCo is full of professionals on dam management. It is managing seven hydro power sites and will include two other huge sites in the coming month.
BHP was developed in 1970, but civil conflict in the country caused construction work to be suspended in 1997, but, by then, the project was 85 percent complete. It was only in June 2005 that the World Bank approved the resumption of construction.
The project entails a hydropower complex, located on the Seli River, in the valleys of the Sula Mountains, approximately 200 kilometers northeast of Freetown, in the Kalansogoia Chiefdom of the Tonkolili district. It encompasses an 88 metre high rock-filled dam with an asphalted concrete upstream face; a 50 MW power station, housing two turbine-generator units of 25 MW each; a transmission system consisting of 200 km of 161 kV transmission line from the power station to Freetown; a substation in Freetown to feed power into the Western Area grid; and a separate power service to Makeni, Lunsar and Port Loko.
The BHP is seen as beneficial to the future of Sierra Leone's electrical power sector because it can greatly improve the current power supply situation by providing a reliable supply of electricity that would meet the electricity needs of the country, including Freetown, at the lowest possible cost and in a sustainable manner.
Much of Sierra Leone's power generation capacity was hampered during the civil war. The country currently experiences frequent blackouts and in the Freetown peninsula, electricity supply is available to customers only for a few hours every week. Most areas in the interior of the country are wholly or largely without access electricity.
About 90 percent of Sierra Leone's electricity is consumed in the country's four main cities: The capital city of Freetown uses 82 percent of the country's electrical power, followed by Kenema which uses three percent, Bo uses three percent, and Makeni uses two percent of the country's power supply. Sierra Leone's power generation relies substantially on fuel oil imports. Freetown's electricity supply comes from the oil-powered Kingtom power generating station, which struggles to provide a continual and an uninterrupted power supply, due to it being in poor condition.
The Government of Sierra Leone has received a supplementary loan from the African Development Fund to meet the cost of completing the Bumbuna Hydroelectric Project, and it intends to apply part of the funds to eligible payments under the contract for the management, operation and maintenance of the Bumbuna Hydro Power Plant and associated transmission facilities. Bidding will be conducted through the international competitive bidding procedures as specified in the African Development Bank's Rules of Procedure for Procurement of Goods and Works and is open to all bidders from eligible source countries as defined in the same rules. Italian based Salini Costruttori is currently constructing three huge hydro power projects in Ethiopia; Gilgel Gibe II, Gibe III, Tana Belese and it constructed Gilgel Gibe I five years ago.