New power lines to optimize electricity distribution in Cameroon

Improving the daily life of residents, reducing use of fossil fuels, developing the economy: these are the main objectives of a project to build two new 225,000-volt power lines in Cameroon. Tractebel is owner’s engineer on this ambitious project.

The first 100-km section of the transmission line, which joins the cities of Nkongsamba to Bafoussam in western Cameroon and extends the existing Bekoko-Nkongsamba line, is now operational. The project comprises two lines, with the second currently under construction between the capital city Yaoundé and Abong Mbang in central Cameroon. Our Tractebel experts are under contract as owner’s engineer.

On July 4, 2022, a ceremony took place to mark the commissioning of the new 225,000-volt Bekoko-Nkongsamba-Bafoussam transmission line. The event was chaired by His Excellency the Minister of Water and Energy, Mr. Gaston Eloundou Essomba, alongside the CEOs of Sonatrel, line operator, and electricity producer Eneo. Our Tractebel teams and partner Fatsons were also on hand to celebrate the event.

Minister of Water and Energy, Mr. Gaston Eloundou Essomba, celebrating the inauguration of the Bekoko-Nkongsamba-Bafoussam transmission line

Tractebel on board since 2018

Our teams on this project, led by Olivier Bisch, Project Director, and assisted by Patrick Truong, Project Manager, carried out a project management mission as owner’s engineer. The contract was signed in 2018 in consortium with our local partner Fatsons.

After the validation of the design by Indian works company Kalpataru, Tractebel and its partner continued with the assistance mission for the signing of the contract, then the control of the execution studies (including the review of over 2,000 technical documents), followed by construction supervision. Fatsons was responsible for monitoring the sites and coordinating the study control for the civil engineering and electricity aspects. The project management was the responsibility of our Tractebel teams.

New transmission lines to optimize energy dispatch

This project is an expansion of Cameroon’s electricity transmission network, which optimizes energy production and dispatch and improves the quality of the electricity supply. These factors contribute to economic development and improved quality of life for inhabitants of the west, northwest and southwest regions. Electricity producer Eneo emphasizes that the project will also make it possible to scale back the operation of three thermal power stations, saving on fuel expenditure while significantly reducing environmental impact.

Distance, population density and Covid-19 present unique challenges

The distance between the two lines contributes to the project’s complexity, as they are nearly 300 km apart. The studies and works for the two lines were carried out in parallel, including the extension of two strategic substations for the high-voltage network, Bekoko and Yaoundé. The extension was required for the connection of new lines, within the constraints of limiting power cuts to the strict minimum during the works.

As the extension of the high voltage line at the Ahala substation in Yaoundé nears completion, there are additional challenges incurred by the area’s high population density, topography, and the presence of numerous existing power lines.

Numerous 90 kV and 225 kV power lines at the entrance to the Ahala substation in Yaoundé, Cameroon

The Covid-19 pandemic presented its own challenges, by nearly eliminating the option to travel to Cameroon and to the equipment manufacturers’ premises. We therefore called on our colleagues from Tractebel in India for factory acceptance of high voltage equipment in India, and we carried out factory acceptance of 225 kV/90 kV transformers in Portugal by videoconference from our offices in Gennevilliers, France, and Yaoundé.

The new Nkongsamba to Bafoussam and Yaoundé to Abong Mbang transmission lines

Left to right: Patrick Truong – Tractebel, Alassa MfouaponFatsons, Olivier Bisch – Tractebel

“What are our strengths on this project? First, our technical expertise in lines but also in substations, our knowledge of the challenges and stakeholders of the country’s energy sector, and also our deep experience in an international context. Plus, our strong complementarity with our longtime Cameroonian partner, which favours a smooth and efficient operation. All these factors allow us to offer our client quality work in the best interests of the project, which is instrumental to the continuity of Tractebel’s longstanding presence in Cameroon with various energy players.”
Olivier Bisch, Tractebel Project Director

Bafoussam substation 225 kV Bafoussam substation 90 kV