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Central African Republic plans emergency rehab of 15-MW Boali 1, 2

The World Bank has granted US$8 million to the Central African Republic (CAR) for emergency rehabilitation of power infrastructure including work to restore the Boali 1 and 2 hydroelectric projects totaling 15 MW.

The bank said US$4 million of the bank's International Development Association (IDA) funding will be allotted to the hydro projects, with the remainder to go to introduction of more efficient compact fluorescent lighting and pre-payment electricity meters and to power loss reductions by replacing old distribution lines.

The goal is to partially restore reliable power supply to CAR utility Energie Centrafricaine (Enerca), whose system failures resulted in lost water supply and powerless hospitals.

Rehabilitation of Boali 1 and 2, which were built in 1955 and 1976 on the Mbali River, is to increase their total capacity to 18 MW. Work is to include:
o Installation of electrical protection devices at the Boali 1 60-kilovolt substation;
o Replacement of governors and wicket gates for all five turbines of Boali 1; and
o Retrofitting of the Boali 2 5.5/60-kV 11 megavolt-ampere transformer that shows oil leakage, upgrading of the Boali 1 5.5/60-kV 11-MVa transformer by the installation of cooling fans, and procurement of a new 2/5.5-kV 2.2-MVa spare transformer to secure the five turbine feeding transformers and a 5.5/60-kV 11-MVa spare transformer to replace the current one at Boali 1.

The hydro project equipment, expected to be acquired through international bidding in May, is estimated to cost US$3 million for the governors and US$728,000 for the transformers and protection equipment. Consultants also are to be recruited for financial, technical, and procurement audits and other services. Hydro project work is to be completed by the end of June 2010.

The bank said it also hired a dam safety specialist who is recommending a number of actions to rehabilitate the dams' hydro-mechanical equipment, control system, and instruments. The recommendations are to be incorporated in the emergency rehabilitation project. The bank said Coyne et Bellier of France found the dams to be structurally sound in 2004 but recommended addition of monitoring instrumentation and an underwater inspection of the foot of the dam.

The World Bank said the rehabilitation project is to be coordinated with French aid agency Agence France de Developpement, which already is financing partial rehabilitation of the CAR power system. The IDA is entirely financing its US$8 million project, which is to be implemented for three years.

AFD has disbursed 4.2 million euros (US$5.4 million) for sector rehabilitation. It funded Electricite de France (EDF) as engineering consultant to Enerca. EDF estimated the cost of rehabilitating existing generation and transmission at 9.2 million euros (US$11.8 million).

For information, contact Energie Centrafricaine (Enerca), Avenue de l'independence, BP 880, Bangui, Central African Republic; (236) 21-615443.

Investment sought to expand Boali 2, add 10-MW Boali 3

Rehabilitation of Boali 1 and 2 is part of a much larger hydropower complex, the bank said. It said investors are sought for a subsequent project to expand Boali 2 by 10 MW and to add 10 MW of hydropower to the Boali 3 regulation dam, which is designed to house hydro turbines.

�However, these are significant generation investments, which are not suitable for an emergency operation and whose costs far outweigh funds available under this project,� the bank said. �The government is looking for ways of financing these investments in the medium term.�

A sector reform study by central African bank Banque de Developpement des Etats d'Afrique Centrale foresees that the Boali 3 project would be managed by a private operator in the future and that there would be private sector involvement in power distribution.

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