Social and environmental pressures have caught up with Senegal’s first coal-fired power plant at Sendou, just months after it started producing its first electricity in November 2018.
The African Development Bank (AfDB), which sanctioned the project back in 2009, announced last week that it had approved independent recommendations “to bring the Sendou coal-fired power plant project in Senegal into compliance with bank policies and procedures.”
A compliance review report was approved by the AfDB’s board of directors with a mitigation action plan prepared by management.
It did not state explicitly how the bank had breached any rules or policies.
However, it follows multiple concerns on air pollution, coastal erosion and the disruption of livelihoods raised by groups of residents from the village communities near where the power station is located.
Sendou is sited 600 metres from the Atlantic Ocean, near two communities: the town of Bargny, 2 km northwest, and the fishing village of Minam, with 600 inhabitants, to the south.
There have also been complaints over land plots that may have been reclaimed by the government without compensation.
The AfDB announced that it would investigate the concerns back in April 2017.
In a February 1, 2019 statement it added: “The board’s decision will trigger the process of resolving the main concerns raised by the complainants that the Sendou power plant will have negative impacts and consequences on their environments and their lives.”
It said an Independent Review Mechanism will monitor the implementation of the action plan and report back to the board annually.
The Sendou coal power plant was built at a cost of 165 million euros (US$188 million), with the AfDB providing a senior loan of 49 million euros (US$56 million) and a supplementary loan of 5 million euros (US$5.7 million).
The company managing the project is Compagnie d’Electricite du Senegal (CES).
Other co-financiers include Banque Ouest Africaine de Developpement (BOAD), CBAO Senegal, a subsidiary of Attijariwafa Bank of Morocco, and FMO, the Netherlands Development Bank.
Long term, the Sendou project aims to supply up to 40% of Senegal’s electricity, with electricity production to be expanded to 250 MW through a second phase.
It is also a key part of diversifying the nation’s energy mix away from the current over-dependence on diesel-fired power.
As well as rolling out conventional thermal base load, the government also hopes to diversify the energy supply with the exploitation of more renewable power.