Project history

Nachtigal, a faraway story…

Nachtigal is originally the name of an explorer: Gustave Nachtigal. A doctor in the Prussian army (Germany) who resigned and decided to travel to discover the world. His adventure on the African continent led him to Cameroon, precisely to the waterfalls and the village of Lékié that bear his name.

It was in the 1970s that SONEL and EDF carried out the first studies on the Sanaga basin to identify its hydroelectric potential. However, it was only in 2005 that the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam project was mentioned for the first time.

The Nachtigal hydroelectric dam was mainly designed to meet the energy needs of ALUCAM (Aluminium of Cameroon). As a matter of fact, within the framework of the development of the bauxite-alumina-aluminium sector, ALUCAM was planning to extend its plant, which required more energy. New studies were carried out to this effect and the State of Cameroon, ALUCAM and its partner ALCAN signed a letter of intent to jointly carry out this project in 2005. An amendment to this letter was later signed in 2007 by the State of Cameroon, ALUCAM and RIO TINTO ALCAN, following the merger between RIO TINTO and ALCAN.

The State of Cameroon, given the importance of the energy capacities expected from the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam, created a committee in February 2013 to reflect on an efficient institutional, legal, financial and technical scheme that would enable the Nachtigal project to be carried out. From there, the idea of Independent Power Production with quality partners from both a technical and financial point of view was born. Thus, EDF and IFC entered the fray and signed a joint development agreement for the Nachtigal project with Rio Tinto Alcan and the State of Cameroon on November 8, 2013.

A steering committee will then be created in 2014 with the mission to set up the company that would lead the Nachtigal Project, and to carry out all negotiations to obtain financing for the Project. NHPC was created on July 16, 2016 and was granted a 35-year concession for power generation by the State of Cameroon on April 20, 2017, starting from the commercial operation of the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam. RIO TINTO ALCAN decided to withdraw from the Project in the meantime, and Nachtigal was left with three shareholders: the State of Cameroon, EDF and IFC.

2018, especially its last quarter, was the most significant year in the development phase of the Nachtigal Project with the signing of all the project contracts (Power Purchase Agreement, Power Sale License, Commitment Agreement, Connection Agreement, Distribution Agreement) and financing agreements on November 8, 2018, precisely 5 years to the day after the signing of the first project development agreement. It was also on this date that NHPC welcomed two new shareholders, STOA and AFRICA 50 , and that its financial close was reached on Christmas Eve, 24 December 2018.

Construction work on the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam started on February 1, 2019 to shape what is considered one of Cameroon’s most important industrial projects. And the story continues…