French consortium to develop Madagascar’s biggest ever hydro project

A framework agreement was signed last week for the construction of Madagascar’s largest hydroelectric project between the country’s government and a French consortium made up of contractor Eiffage, utility Eranove and bank Themis.

The 200MW Sahofika plant will be located 100km south of Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital, on the Onive river. According to the NEHO consortium, the capacity can be increased to 300MW when demand justifies the expansion.

Madagascar President, Andry Rajoelina, said at the signing ceremony in Paris: "Since independence from France in 1960, Madagascar’s energy production has barely reached 400MW, mostly through fossil fuels. Electricity is a luxury product in Madagascar."

He added that only 15% of the population had access to power, which is among the most expensive in Africa at between $0.33 and $0.45 per kilowatt hour.

Last week’s signing ceremony (Eranove)

Tas Anvaripour, managing director of Themis, which is financing the project, commented: "The project will reduce shortage on the Antananarivo power grid and meet the country’s increasing demand in electricity across the country, estimated between 2,300 and 3,300GWh a year."

When complete, the plant will be operated by the Eranove group. Marc Albérola, general manager of Eronave, which specialises in African utilities, said the plant would "contribute significantly to the economic and financial balance of the electricity sector". He added: "With the Sahofika project, the share of green energy in the energy mix of Madagascar will ultimately be predominant."

The consortium will now carry out preliminary studies, financing, construction, commissioning and maintenance. A power purchase agreement is due to be signed with national electricity company JIRAMA by August. Works will begin in 2020 with the first production set to start in 2024.

Top image: Washing zebus in the Onive river (Dreamstime)

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