Project History

The Nachtigal project takes its name from the famous explorer Gustave Nachtigal. Doctor in the Prussian army (Germany), this latter 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 department that bear his name.

It was in the 1970s that SONEL and EDF carried out the first studies on the Sanaga river 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) that was planning to extend its plant. 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.

Given the importance of the energy capacities expected from the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam, the State of Cameroon 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 7th 2016 and was granted a 35-year concession for power generation by the State of Cameroon on April 20th 2017, starting from the commissioning date 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 after the signing of the first project development agreement. It was also in that period 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 1st 2019 to shape what is considered one of the most important industrial projects of Cameroon and sub-Saharan Africa in the energy sector.

From September 2024, once commissioned, Nachtigal will supply an additional 420MW of green energy to the electric grid; this corresponds to 30% of Cameroon’s energy needs. Simply put, from this horizon, out of 10 light bulbs in Cameroon, 3 will be lit by the Nachtigal hydroelectric development.

And the story continues…

Arsene BikahHistoire du projet en