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Let there be light: Angola's rural electrification project [FOCUS]

Focus Africa

With a vast territory, Angola has a wealth of natural resources. The country boasts of an exceptional economic potential not to mention the richness of its biodiversity, which should make it possible to diversify its sources of income and develop its infrastructure.

“The Kwanza River, the Kalandula Waterfalls, rivers and streams has not finished. The hydroelectric potential of Angola is one of the largest in Africa. Today, only 4% of these water resources are exploited. A situation to which the authorities intend to rectify: The construction of the Laúca hydroelectric dam is one of the key stages of this huge project. “

Inaugurated some two weeks ago, Lauca, is over $4 billion worth of investment, for a production of 2070 megawatts by May 2018. This will benefit at least 8 million inhabitants, thus doubling the energy capacity of the country, where 65% of the population today still live without electricity.

Here, 9000 people are working to ensure the 6 turbines of the site are put on line within the announced deadlines.

In the region the effects of the energy production of the dam already illuminate the everyday life. In Dombo, it is an unusual evening for the inhabitants of the village located at 40 km from Lauca. Today they see their home light up for the very first time.

Next step: The Caculo Cabasa dam, which is expected to produce an additional 2100 megawatts within four years. Ultimately, the Kwanza river will supply 7 hydroelectric dams for a production of 7450 megawatts.

The major challenge remains the distribution of this new energy. Connecting the province of Malanje with the Laùca dam in the center of the country, in Luanda’s main market in the west, represents logistics and exorbitant costs.

The Angolan capital is a hub of 6 million inhabitants. And yet electricity is scarce. A reality for the national electricity Distribution company. The country’s electrification project poses many challenges. And the abandonment of diesel, a necessity.

In Luanda the generators are running at full throttle. A diesel dependency that pushed Fernando Miguel to leave Kikuxi after 9 years and nearly 10 obsolete generators.

“The Angolan energy production capacity does not meet the national demand. A demand that grows as the country develops. The average per capita electricity consumption is expected to reach 1,230 kilowatt hours in 2025, compared with 375 kilowatt hours in 2013. But beyond the average consumer, reliable access to electricity is essential to the proper functioning of Angolan enterprises.”

Nova Cimangola is an inspiring example. The cement factory invested $300 million for the production of a clinker, the material used to make cement … units that operate 24 hours a day.

The electrification programme initiated by the Government is still in its first steps. It is on this project that Angola hopes to revive its economy.

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