The Lights Are On

Image: SEGESA

This article was originally published in the Africa Energy Series: Equatorial Guinea book.

SEGESA is Equatorial Guinea’s national electricity company and is the sole owner and operator of generation, transmission and distribution assets.

Tracing its roots back to a pre-independence company running a small thermal plant not far from the town of Luba, Sociedad de Electricidad de Guinea Ecuatorial (SEGESA) today is a fully fledged national power utility, supplying electricity to the greater majority of Equatorial Guinea’s population.

In its current form, SEGESA was formed by governmental decree in 1990, following the conclusion of the Riaba hydroelectric dam.

At the time, Equatorial Guinea had a generation capacity of no more than 6 MW, divided between two small hydropower plants and one thermal power plant, and most of the population lacked access to a steady supply of power.

Since then, the company’s capacity has been growing steadily, in line with the economic growth of Equatorial Guinea.

SEGESA, which is in charge of all power generation and distribution in the island of Malabo, Annobón, and Equatorial Guinea’s continental territory, manages a balanced mix between renewables and fossil fuel-based power generation.

The opening of phase one of Malabo’s 8.4 MW Turbogas thermal power plant, in 2000, was a landmark moment for the company and the country. It was expanded by 17 MW in 2004.

Combined with the 7.2 MW Semu thermal power plant, which started operating in 2004, and the 24 MW Bata thermal power plant, which started operating in 2007, SEGESA’s installed generation capacity grew by ten-fold in just seven years.

In 2012, the opening of the 120 MW Djibloho hydroelectric dam and the deployment of the second phase of the Turbogas plant, adding 126 MW to its initial capacity, brought SEGESA’s installed capacity to a new high.

Today, SEGESA has an installed capacity of over 390 MW, providing electricity to over 80 percent of the country’s population, and strives to grow and innovate within the Central African power sector.

A demonstration of Equatorial Guinea’s and SEGESA’s investment in innovative solutions to address geographical and infrastructural limitations is seen in An- nobón. The island of 5,000 people located almost 700 kilometers away from Malabo was, until three years ago, completely dependent on expensive and inefficient diesel powered generators.

Today, a solar power microgrid with 5 MW of generation capacity and 10 MW storage, capable of satisfying all the island’s power needs, is almost complete. SEGESA’s Annobón solar microgrid is a showcase within Africa and one of the largest such projects in the world.

Long-term goals

In 2013, in a bid to reorganize and optimise SEGESA’s operations, the company was divided into three branches; generation, transmission and distribution (including commercial sales to businesses and residents). Since 2015 all of SEGESA’s divisions have been managed by SEGESA Holding.

The reorganization came in line with an expansion strategy, based on the government’s “Lights for All” initiative. It is within this framework that the construction of the Sendje hydropower plant in Rio Muni was initiated.

Once completed, this large scale dam will provide the national grid with an additional 120 MW of power. At the same time, SEGESA has been upgrading some of its older infrastructure with efficiency and environmental preservation in mind. The Bata thermal power plant has undergone a conversion of its turbines to run on natural gas, as well as on fuel oil.

The future will follow a similar pattern, with an additional 400 MW of generation capacity based on hydro resources having already been planned by SEGESA, and a natural gas fired 100 MW power plant in Kogo also on the road map. New investments in transmission capacity have allowed the company to extend its services to thousands of people in previously unconnected communities.

As new generation capacity comes online, Equatorial Guinea, through SEGESA, will be able to move forward from its goal of providing power to all its citizens and will embark on a new stage of power exports to its neighbors.