Benin Republic may soon end its dependence on power supply from Nigeria.
The tiny Francophone country currently friends on biomass, petroleum products and imported electricity from Nigeria for its energy needs.
Much of the petroleum products are smuggled from neighbouring Nigeria.
Its bigger neighbour has imposed a blockade of its land border to curb the smuggling of rice, cars and arms from Benin Republic.
Benin gets electricity supply from Nigeria under the CEB-NEPA power interconnection commissioned in 2007.
To achieve its aim of reducing electricity imports from Nigeria, Benin Republic has officially inaugurated a new gas plant, according to esi-africa.com.
The Maria Gleta plant, located near the city of Cotonou, was inaugurated by Benin’s energy minister, Dona Jean-Claude Houssou.
The plant will supply the national grid with 127MW of electricity and runs on seven gensets from Germany’s MAN Energy Solutions, which built the plant in a consortium with Denmark’s Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC).
“The Maria Gleta power plant increases Benin’s capacity for electricity generation by more than 50% – our country now becomes more independent of energy imports”, said Houssou.
He added that the plant was part of the government’s ‘Revealing Benin’ action plan, which centres around 45 flagship projects aimed at strengthening macroeconomic development, consolidating democracy and improving the lives of the population.
The Maria Gleta plant is planned to be expanded later to a total capacity of 400 MW as part of this programme. During the inauguration, the facility was also visited by energy secretaries from neighbouring Burkina-Faso, Togo, and Niger.
Recently, the Benin government also signed an agreement with Total for the development of a floating storage and regasification unit, which will ensure the supply of the Maria Gleta plant with liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Waldemar Wiesner of MAN Energy Solutions said: “We are very pleased that we are able to support Benin’s ambitious growth plans with this project. Maria Gleta ensures a stable and independent power supply for Benin.
“The plant will mainly operate on natural gas keeping emissions at a low level, while ensuring fuel flexibility through its dual-fuel capability. This combination connects an environmentally friendly power generation with a secure supply at all time.”