Home to the sources of the Niger, Gambia and Senegal Rivers, Guinea boasts one of the highest hydropower potentials in West Africa. However, the country currently utilises less than 5 per cent of its technically exploitable potential, which is estimated at 6,100 MW. In 2014, Guinea had only 125.4 MW of installed hydropower capacity from five stations, which accounted for roughly 30 per cent of the total electricity mix; the remainder was provided by thermal generation.
Despite the country’s vast mineral resources, three-quarters of the population (around 9 million people) currently lack access to electricity, with that figure rising to 90 per cent in rural areas.
It is difficult for countries in the region to achieve national self-sufficiency in electricity supply due to the high costs associated with establishing new generation and transmission infrastructure. Guinea is a member of a number of regional power interconnection and river basin management initiatives. It joined the Gambia River Basin Development Authority (OMVG) in 1981, the Senegal River Basin Development Authority (OMVS) in 1963 (re-joining in 2006) and the West African Power Pool (WAPP) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2000. All of these initiatives seek to establish reliable interstate power grids and shared electricity markets.
Guinea reached a milestone in 2015 when it commissioned the 240 MW Kaleta project on the Konkouré River, about 135 km from the capital city of Conakry. The three-turbine generating station almost triples the country’s total installed hydropower capacity from 125 MW to 368 MW.
The station was built with support from OMVG and in cooperation with China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of the China Three Gorges Corporation.
Power generated from the station will play a significant role in providing reliable power for Conakry’s 1.7 million residents as well as Guinea’s bauxite mines, which account for 31 per cent of power consumption in the country. Guinea possesses an estimated 25 per cent of the world’s bauxite reserves, and the mining sector represents about a fifth of domestic GDP. Additionally, roughly 30 per cent of Kaleta’s output will contribute power to the shared grid of OMVG.
2015 also saw the Souapiti hydropower project enter the construction phase. Located approximately 6 km upstream of Kaleta, this 515 MW dam and power station is also being built by CWE. The project, which is expected to be completed in five years, will advance Guinea’s strategic goal to become a net power exporter.
2015 also saw ECOWAS member states approve a new directive for the better consideration of economic, environmental and social considerations of cross-border hydropower infrastructure projects to ensure the sustainable management of water resources. The directive, if implemented, will provide a strong policy foundation for further hydropower projects in the region.
An example is the Fomi dam, a proposed project to provide water storage, irrigation and electricity to countries in the Niger River basin. This 90 MW hydropower station would be a transboundary project between Mali and Guinea, used for irrigation and to maintain dry-season flows, in addition to power generation.
Further development is expected in Guinea. As stated in the country’s intended national determined contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Guinea has ambitions to commission a further 1,410 MW of hydropower capacity by 2030.
This country profile is featured in the 2016 Hydropower Status Report. You can download the full report here.
This profile was last updated in May 2016.