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Independent review authorised for Sendou coal-fired power plant

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World Coal,

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has approved the eligibility assessment for compliance review of the Bank-financed construction of a 125 MW coal-fired power plant project in the village of Bargny Minam in Senegal, West Africa.

By approving the project, the Board has also authorised that Independent Review Mechanism experts carry out further investigations to clarify issues raised in the complaints by two groups of complainants on behalf of adversely affected members of the communities in Bargny, Senegal.

Both groups raised eight similar issues, including unviable government policy option to use coal-fired power plant for Senegal; the selection of the project site in violation of the National Code of the Environment; increased vulnerability of communities to air pollution and potential disruption of livelihoods because of the proximity of the coal power plant to the town and adverse impact of the coal power plant on an historic heritage site. The groups also highlighted imminent health risks from air pollution due to emissions from Sendou plant; increased vulnerability of the community due to coastal erosion; inadequate public consultations with people affected by the project (PAPs) and breach of AfDB's environmental, social and human rights standards. In particular, no Resettlement Action Plan was prepared to mitigate the project's negative social impacts.

Following registration of complaints, the Bank realised that adequate mitigation measures should be put in place before the plant becomes operational by the end of 2017, since, non-compliance with the Involuntary resettlement policy, Integrated water resources management and the Environmental review procedures for the private sector operations, would harm the related communities. Issues identified as a result of non-compliance with Bank policies, comprise among others (a) disruption of livelihoods of over 1000 women and other seasonal and temporary workers who have informal business of drying and packaging fish; (b) plots assigned to residents retaken by government without compensation; imminent health risks from air pollution of Sendou plant; (c) risk of pollution of surface and ground water; (d) inadequate public consultations with PAPs.

The project was approved by the Board in 2009 to the tune of Euros 206 million, which the Bank co-finances with the Banque Ouest Africaine de Développement (BOAD) and the Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO). AfDB's financing comprises a senior loan of 55 million Euros, and a supplementary loan of 5 million Euros.

The project is being developed on a “build, own, and operate” basis and targets to supply up to 40% of Senegal's electricity which currently derives 80% of its electricity from diesel-fueled power generation. The government of Senegal (GOS) has outlined a strategy for diversifying and increasing domestic power generation capacity with a combination of conventional thermal base load and renewable energy. It is the first coal-fired plant in Senegal.

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