The proposed Lom Pangar dam in the East Province of Cameroon is designed to regulate the flow of the Sanaga River in order to increase energy production from downstream hydroelectric plants feeding the country’s southern electricity grid and its single largest energy consumer, the Alucam aluminum smelter. As designed, the Lom Pangar Dam will have significant environmental and social impacts, flooding over 30,000 hectares of tropical hardwood forest, threatening the Deng Deng reserve and its biodiversity, and submerging a portion of the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline. Perhaps more importantly, the Lom Pangar Dam was not selected on the basis of a comprehensive energy options assessment, and appears to respond to the energy demands of the expanding aluminum sector rather than the energy needs of the majority of the country’s population lacking access to electricity. The World Bank provided the government of Cameroon with comments on the environmental impact assessment for the dam in December 2005 and may be asked to finance the project.
BIC is working with civil society groups in Cameroon to encourage a transparent, participatory approach to energy sector development in Cameroon, that prioritizes the needs of the poor and protection of the environment. BIC is monitoring the involvement of the World Bank in the Lom Pangar project and energy sector development in Cameroon, and working to ensure that concerns and recommendations of civil society organizations reach decision-makers. BIC staff visited the Lom Pangar site in October 2005 and co-authored a report on the project that was issued in June 2006.