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U.K. firm to build Cameroon's 200-MW Memvele

Sud Energie, controlled by emerging markets generator Globeleq of the United Kingdom, has signed a deal to build the 200-MW Memvele hydropower project in Cameroon.

Memvele, also spelled Memve'ele, is one of a series of projects planned to raise Cameroon's capacity to about 2,000 MW by 2015, from barely 900 MW now, to meet demand rising by about 8 percent a year.

"You know that we are facing serious energy problems every day. It on a daily basis affects our industries, our enterprises, and household use," Finance Minister Polycarpe Abah Abah said following an August 8 signing ceremony. "That is why I think the signing of this convention is a giant step in resolving this energy crisis that very negatively impacts our economic growth."

The project includes a dam on the Ntem River in Cameroon's South Province, a road to the site, a power plant, and transmission lines to link it to the national grid.

Guillaume Rivron, business development manager for Globeleq, said work should start in 2008, with the plant to begin generating electricity by 2013.

"It will be realized through the build, operate, and transfer principle, with a concession of 20 years, after which we will transfer management to the government of Cameroon," he said.

Rivron could not give a total cost for the project. A study by the Cameroon government in 2005 estimated it could cost about 142.3 billion Central French Africa francs (US$296 million).

Rivron said Sud Energie was expected to meet 30 percent of the cost with additional financing coming from the Development Bank of Central African States, African Development Bank, Dutch Development Bank, Arab Development Bank, and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. (HNN 10/10/06)

Officials said Canadian aluminum producer Alcan would buy 50 MW of Memvele's output to power a planned expansion at its local ALUCAM unit, and the Cameroon rubber company, HEVECAM, would buy a further 20 MW. Neighboring Equatorial Guinea had also agreed to buy 50 MW of its output, and Gabon might follow suit, they said.

Globeleq was founded in 2002 by Britain's CDC, a private equity fund investor formerly known as the Commonwealth Development Corp., to generate safe, reliable power in emerging markets in Africa, the Americas, and Asia. CDC, owned by the British government, owns 100 percent of Globeleq, which in turn controls Bermuda-based Sud Energie.

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