Gabon looking to double generation capacity from 350 MW by end 2013

9 November 2012 – The president of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba said at the World Energy Forum, held in October 2012 that the country is investing in clean, sustainable energy. “We are working to promote economic growth whilst optimising environmental integrity.We have decided that we can no longer rely on our oil and forest resources if we are to offer the Gabonese people a prosperous, sustainable future,” he says.

“Investment in the energy sector is a key component of our vision.” It is in this context that the country is working to double itsgeneration capacity, which is currently 350 MW, by the end of 2013. Ondimba says Gabon has engaged in a US$2.4 billion investmentprogram to develop the country’s hydropower potential and to set up an interconnected national grid, which will increase power production to 1,200 MW by 2020. Additional local biomass and small run of the river hydro plants will be used to service remote communities.

“We are striving to ensure 100% energy access by 2016. Furthermore, it will be 100% clean energy, including 80% from renewable hydropower and the remainder from previously burnt gas and biomass.”

Gabon’s hydropower potential is estimated at about 8,000 MW and it aspires to be in a position to export up to 3,000 MW by 2030. SomeUS$5 billion in investments will be required to develop these additional projects, which represent a significant investment opportunity both for sovereign funds and the private sector alike.

“In addition, I have instructed the government to implement an ambitious national energy saving and efficiency programme, aimed at significantly decreasing the administration’s energy consumption and ensuring the energy efficiency of our built heritage and infrastructure, as soon as possible.

“In light of the social and environmental impacts of the energy sector it is evident that states can no longer simply act locally or regionally. Today the capacity of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, home to 860 million people, is the equivalent of that of Poland,” Ondimba says. “It is in our common interest to significantly reduce the energy gap between North and South. The rest of the world cannot develop without Africa, just as Africa cannot develop in isolation.”

Ondimba has called for the creation of an African fund for energy and infrastructure. “Gabon is ready and willing to contribute actively to this fund, just as Africa must also contribute actively to the challenge of ensuring the sustainable development of our planet.Africa needs foreign investment in energy infrastructure, which requires significant levels of capital. In its turn, Africa must improve the business environment through good governance, in order to protect private sector investors.”