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Africa: Projects to Watch
 Africa: Other Projects to Watch

Manantali Dam, Senegal River Valley

Manantali Dam is a prime example of how a large dam can cause impoverishment in the name of development. Constructed in 1987, it was designed as a multi–purpose dam to generate 200MW of electricity for the capitals of Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal; irrigate nearly 4,000 km2; and allow over 400 km navigation between major cities along the Senegal River. After building the dam at a cost of almost $500 million, funding was used up before the power station, the project’s primary revenue source, was built. A team of new funders, including the World Bank, was coordinated in 1998 to build the power station, which came online in 2001. The project directly displaced 12,000 people without full compensation needed to sustain their lifestyle and affected up to 100,000 along the river by destroying successful flood recession farming techniques and downstream fishing. There have also been significant health impacts across the valley related to the project. In 2001, South Africa’s Eskom won a 15 year contract to operate Manantali Dam.

Sondu–Miriu River, Kenya

Sondu–Miriu is a 60 MW dam on the Sondu River that is expected to be completed in 2005, after years of delay. Affected communities have complained about the poor compensation, corruption and lack of transparency in the project. The Japan Bank For International Cooperation (JBIC) suspended its funding of the project in mid 2001 after significant resistance by affected communities and NGOs, but re–committed to completing the dam in November 2004. In January 2005, Kenya’s Environmental Minister declared that Sondu–Miriu will be a "white elephant" if heavy deforestation continues in the watershed, as increased siltation from the eroded landscape would wash into the river, shortening the life of the dam.

Bui Dam, Ghana

Bui Dam proposed for the Black Volta River would flood nearly a quarter of the Bui National Park, destroying habitat for rare hippos, forcibly resettling 2,600 people and affecting thousands more. In October 2001, the dam was temporarily shelved after a public statement by the government announced that Bui Dam was not the least–cost option and could not meet immediate energy needs. "One can no longer assume that hydropower generation is cheaper anymore," said Charles Wereko–Brobby, Chief Executive of the Volta River Authority (VRA). "If you are running thermal with gas, you can run it half the cost of hydropower from Bui." In recent years, Ghana has been plagued by power rationing because of its dependence on large hydro projects.

But in January 2005, the Executive Secretary of the Energy Commission in Ghana called on the government to revisit the Bui Dam project in order to increase Ghana’s self–sufficiency and stop high tariffs.

Lower Kihansi Dam, Tanzania

The 180MW hydroelectric facility in the Lower Kihansi Gorge, south central Tanzania, has been on stream since December 1999. The project cost $275 million in total, financed by TANESCO/Tanzania Government, World Bank/IDA, NORAD, SIDA, KfW and the EIB. Evidence of environmental damage during the dam's construction led to NORAD (one of the financers) making its own technical review. It found the original World Bank environmental assessment to be of such poor quality that it financed its own Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The dam has affected 20,000 villagers. It also destroyed an 800m–high waterfall, the only habitat in which a newly discovered species of toad resides.

Adjarala Dam, Togo and Benin

The 96–MW Adjarala Dam would be the second large hydropower dam on the Mono River between the countries of Benin and Togo. Partial financing for construction of Adjarala has been offered by the Export–Import Bank of China (€24 million) in exchange for supply contracts. An undated summary of the Environmental Impact Assessment notes negative impacts including displacement of over 8,000 people (75% in Togo, 25% in Benin), increased coastal erosion, and reservoir pollution from upstream factories. Greenhouse gas emissions will likely be high due to little planned removal of vegetation in the area of the reservoir. The Benin Electricity Corporation (CEB) is responsible for the project. The project has been considered for nearly ten years, and follows the Nangbeto Dam, which was commissioned upstream in 1987. Nangbeto Dam created disastrous impacts for resettled communities after World Bank financing was approved without a resettlement plan.

Additional Information

For further information, please contact:

    Lori Pottinger
    E–mail: lori@irn.org
    Tel: +1 510–848–1155