Guinea’s 450 megawatt Souapiti dam, scheduled to begin operating in September 2020, is the most advanced of several new hydropower projects planned by the government of President Alpha Condé. Guinea’s government believes that hydropower can significantlyincrease access to electricity in a country where only a fraction of people have reliable access to power.
Souapiti’s output, however, has a human cost. The dam’s reservoir will ultimately displace an estimated 16,000 people from 101 villages and hamlets. The Guinean government had moved 51 villages by the end of 2019 and said it planned to conduct the remaining resettlements within a year. Forced off their ancestral homes and farmlands, and with much of their land already, or soon to be flooded, displaced communities are struggling to feed their families, restore their livelihoods, and live with dignity.
The Souapiti project is an example of China’s support for global hydropower and the role of Chinese foreign investment in large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa. China International Water & Electric Corporation (CWE) – a wholly owned subsidiary of the world’s second largest dam builder, state-owned China Three Gorges Corporation – is
constructing the dam and will then jointly own and operate it with the Guinean government.
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