Power problems in Guinea Bissau over within 60 days, government says

17 July 2006

Bissau, Guinea Bissau, 17 July – The chronic lack of power in Guinea Bissau will be over within 60 days, the country’s Natural Resources Minister said Friday, on announcing new investments and improvements to increase production capacity.

Aristides Ocante da Silva added that a team of Ukrainian technicians was repairing three of the five “obsolete” generators at the Bissau power plant.

Alongside this, the Nigerian subsidiary of Siemens plans to acquire new generators over the next few days, so that they can be quickly assembled, making it possible to increase power production in the Guinean capital.

Silva, who is also the Environment Minister, said that with the two operations, within 60 days at most, the power situation, particularly in Bissau, would be “substantially improved.”

Currently, the Bissau power plant produces 2.5 megawatts of electricity and over the next few days that capacity could increase to 4 megawatts, after work by the Ukrainian team is concluded, which will be enough to fulfil the needs of the great majority of inhabitants of the Guinean capital.

Silva said however that the “great improvement” in power supply would only be felt when the generators to be bought by Siemens go online.

The government’s aim is to allow Siemens to produce power, which will be bought by the state Electricity and Water company which, in its turn, will distribute it to customers, he said.

For this purpose, the Guinean government has obtained funding of US$25 million to carry out the projects, he said.

The donors are the World Bank, which granted US$15 million and the African Development Bank (ADB) and the West African Development Bank, which granted US$5 million each.

The government is relying on power to be produced at the Sambangalo (Senegal) and Kaleta (Guinea Conakry) hydroelectric dams which, as of 2009, may supply power to Guinea Bissau.

In the long term, the Guinean authorities to move ahead with building a hydroelectric dam in the country, along the Geba River, in the south of Guinea Bissau, which would have a production capacity of some 20 megawatts.

The government estimates it would need US$87 million to build the dam, which would resolve the country’s problems “once and for all,” Silva said.

China would be available to finance the project provided there was an understanding with the Guinean authorities about recovering the costs, the Natural Resources Minister said. (macauhub)

MACAUHUB FRENCH