The World Bank's Cameroon country director Gregor Binkert assured the African nation's president, Paul Biya, that construction of the giant Lom Pangar hydroelectricity dam needed to boost the country's economy will be completed in 2014, state-radio reported Saturday.
"Preparatory work has already started. The constructor of the dam--a Chinese company--has already been selected. We expect to disburse funds for the dam's construction by June or July this year. The European Investment Bank will also disburse funds by June. So, we think that the work can now go on. With all these preparations done, all this work done, we stay optimistic and we're confident that by 2014, work on the dam will be finished," Binkert told reporters after holding talks with Biya at the country's presidential palace Friday.
The assurance comes after the World Bank approved a $132 million zero-interest loan Tuesday to help Cameroon build the dam.
A total of XAF193.6 billion ($393.7 million) is needed to construct the hydroelectricity plant, whose dam will hold 7.25 cubic kilometers of water and generate 1,192 megawatts of hydroelectricity supply for industrial and domestic use.
While Cameroon's government has already made available XAF46.8 billion as its part of funding, the rest of it will come from local and foreign lenders such as: the World Bank; the European Investment Bank; the French Agency for Development, or AFD; the African Development Bank, or AfDB; and the Development Bank for Central African States, or BDEAC.
To be built on the twin Rivers Lom and Pangar in Cameroon's East Region, the plant is being managed by state-run Electricity Development Corporation. The EDC recruited China International Water and Electric Corporation, CWE Corp. in August 2011 to build the plant's dam.
Construction work on the site began in November 2011. The Lom Pangar project is part of Cameroon's battle to fight acute power shortages and increase electricity output and launch giant industrial projects, including for the rural population, 14% or which is still without electricity.
Cameroon aims to spend $12 billion to triple its electricity output by 2020, according to a government strategy paper.
American energy giant AES Corp. (AES), which currently accounts for Cameroon's 1,000MW is the lone provider of the West African nation's electricity.
-By Emmanuel Tumanjong, contributing to Dow Jones Newswires; +237-9655-6261; firstname.lastname@example.org