West African Transmission Network Gets Go Ahead

West African interconnections will boost energy supply to support regional trade and integration.
Published: Tue 12 May 2015

A US$200 million IDA credit has been approved by the World Bank to support the construction of transmission lines to interconnect the four West African countries of The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.

The project will also include the installation of fibre optic cables on one of the ground wires to improve public communications.

Changing energy mix in West Africa   

The Organisation pour la Mise en Valeur du fleuve Gambie (the Gambia River Basin Development Organization) (OMVG) Interconnection Project is aimed to enable electricity trade between the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, and to link these countries with the rest of West Africa.

As a result of the region’s high dependence on expensive oil-based thermal generation, the cost of electricity generation in The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal is very high. The OMVG Interconnection Project will help these countries to change the energy mix away from thermal generation by connecting them to more sustainable and cost-effective energy resources such as Guinea’s 6,000MW of hydropower potential. Also, gas along the coast from Côte d’Ivoire to Nigeria and in Mauritania can be converted into power.

“Regional power trade is critical in West Africa,” says Colin Bruce, the World Bank director of Regional Integration for Africa. “By grouping together the energy demands of the four countries, the OMVG Interconnection transmission lines will enable larger and more efficient generation of electricity, which is essential for business development, job creation, income generation, and international competitiveness.”

For comparison, the cost of producing thermal power using liquid fossil fuels can reach US$0.50 per kWh compared to US$0.05-10 per kWh for hydropower and US$0.15-20 per kWh for gas-to-power generation.

Interconnection in West Africa

The OMVG is regarded as the missing link to create the transmission backbone infrastructure of the West African Power Pool (WAPP). Its completion will represent a critical step towards interconnecting the WAPP network from Nigeria to Senegal by connecting the existing Senegal River Basin (OMVS) network to the north and the Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia-Sierra Leone-Guinea (CLSG) network to the east.

The project comprises two components. The first component, extension of the WAPP transmission network - OMVG interconnection, includes the construction of  a loop of 16 sections totaling 1,677km of 225kV transmission lines capable of handling 800MW and the construction of 15 225-30kV substations and two dispatching centres. The second component, technical assistance to OMVG, is comprised of implementation support as well as operations and maintenance support to the OMVG transmission company during the first five years of operation (expected 2018-2022). 

“Increasing power trade in West Africa will help deepen political and economic integration and promote increased regional stability,” said Pedro E. Sanchez, the project task team leader. “The OMVG interconnection is potentially transformational and economically significant by helping new generation capacity to come on-line.”

In addition to IDA, the project will be supported by the French Development Agency (AFD, US$52 million), African Development Bank (AfDB, US$135 million), Islamic Development Bank (ISDB, US$94 million), West African Development Bank (WADB, US$54 million), European Investment Bank (EIB, US$106 million), Kuwait Fund (KF, US$24 million) and the German government (KfW, US$32 million). The four governments will provide approximately US$16 million to finance interest during the construction phase to the total project cost of US$711 million.

Further reading

World Bank: OMVG Interconnection Project