March 28, 2012 / 5:18 AM / 8 years ago

World Bank approves loan for Cameroon dam project

Electricity pylons in Soweto outside Johannesburg November 22, 2009. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank on Tuesday approved a $132 million zero-interest loan to help Cameroon build a dam to generate more electricity for homes and businesses across the west Central African nation.

The World Bank joins several other organizations in helping finance the Lom Pangar Hydropower Project that is expected to increase hydroelectric generating capacity on Cameroon’s Sanaga River by about 40 percent.

The whole project is expected to cost $494 million, with $132 million financed by the International Development Association, or IDA, which is the bank’s fund for the poorest countries.

The African Development Bank, Central African States Development Bank, European Investment Bank and the French Agency for Development are supplying $163 million, and the government of Cameroon will put up another $199 million.

The dam can be used to store water in the rainy season and release it during dry periods to make hydroelectric power generation more reliable year-round.

The World Bank’s board said Cameroon urgently needs to spur growth and to make electricity more widely available, especially in rural areas where it is estimated that fewer than 14 percent of people have access to electricity.

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