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European bank funds rehab of Cameroon's 396-MW Song Loulou

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Cameroon utility AES Sonel have signed a 65 million euro (US$82.6 million) agreement to partially finance AES Sonel's program to rehabilitate 396-MW Song Loulou Dam on the Sanaga River.

EIB said December 19 the financing also includes dam safety work, and ancillary investments improving transmission and distribution of power.

EIB said it supports AES Sonel's post-privatization investment program, estimated at 380 million euros (US$483 million), to boost generating capacity and improve electricity service.

AES Corp. of the United States acquired control of Societe Nationale d'Electricite du Cameroon (SONEL) from the government, which retains ownership of 44 percent of the utility. Earlier this year, AES Sonel pre-qualified bidders to refurbish the 263-MW Edea hydroelectric project on the Sanaga River. (HNN 2/16/06)

The AES Sonel post-privatization financing plan provides for financing of 135 million euros (US$171.6 million) from EIB and the World Bank's International Finance Corp., together with a syndicate of the African Development Bank (HNN 6/5/06), Central African Development Bank, Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH, Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund, FMO � the Netherlands Development Finance Co., and Proparco.

Song Loulou is one of the largest hydro projects in Africa, with eight 48-MW turbine-generators. Hydro-Quebec International was commissioned by SONEL in 1998 to study reservoir structures to identify causes of concrete cracking and operating problems.

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