The expansion of the Cambambe hydropower plant in Africa

A partnership that powers Angola

Cambambe is located 180 km east of Luanda, the capital of Angola.

Global collaboration for sustainable development

At the start of the 21st century, Angola was on the verge of a new beginning. The state-owned energy supplier ENE was planning to rehabilitate the Cambambe I hydropower plant in order to create a basis for social and economic progress in the country. Today, the Cambambe site can supply 8 million people with energy - a success story for the country in southern Africa.

The end of the almost 30-year civil war in 2002 marked the beginning of an economic revival in Angola. The government made plans to invest in the future. Hydropower has put it at the top of the energy agenda.

As an environmentally friendly technology, hydropower stands for sustainable development and forms a basis for local and national development. The demand for electricity is booming due to economic growth and the rapid rise in population. What is lacking is a reliable electricity supply.

The rehabilitation of Cambambe I

The Cambambe I hydropower plant, at the time operated by the Empresa Nacional de Electricidade (ENE), is located on the banks of the Kwanza River - about 180 km from the capital city of Luanda. Originally put into operation in 1962, two of the four turbines were still connected to the grid in 2002, one could not be syncronised to the grid and one was not in operation at all.

It was decided to replace all four in order to increase the power generation from 80 MW to 260 MW and extend the life of the plant by decades. The state-owned power utility ENE chose Voith to build the project in an international consortium. The starting signal was given in 2008.

A state-of-the-art hydraulic system has been developed for the Francis turbines.

Modern technology for maximum performance

A state-of-the-art hydraulic system in combination with digital and hydraulic Voith controllers has been built for the Francis turbines to ensure the best possible results. The turbines were installed one after the other to maintain the power supply in the surrounding area during the construction phase.

Not only the customer was delighted when the new plant components were put into operation after four years – and even with a higher output than agreed in the contract. In retrospect, Cambambe I marked the beginning of a successful partnership that forms a strong foundation for the future: the expansion of the power plant by a further 700 MW.

Cambambe during the rehabilitation work. The goal: a significant increase in performance.

Cambambe II - Electricity for 8 million people

Despite the progress made since the end of the civil war in 2002, Angola still faces great challenges, as Voith Project Manager Patric Kiehlmann recognized at the beginning of Cambambe II after Cambambe I had been completed:

An economic revival, including jobs and higher living standards, is urgently needed. That is why Cambambe II is so important for the future of the country.
Patric Kiehlmann, Head of Sales & Project Management Angola, Voith Division Hydro

Four additional new generator-turbine units are to feed a further 700 MW into the Angolan grid in Cambambe II. The supply of turbines, generators, control technology and electromechanical systems makes the expansion of Cambambe a major international project with high logistical requirements for Voith: For example, the generator including a four-part stator, which was assembled on site, comes from Sweden.

MW capacity are fed into the Angolan grid from the Cambambe site today

Kiehlmann reports: "The transport and import of the materials alone took three months. And the bureaucratic hurdles in clearing customs and applying for visas for the non-native employees were also enormous. But together with the customer, we were able to overcome these challenges."

When the first unit was connected to the grid in July 2016, after about four years, the project team celebrated a great success:

From the day Unit 1 began its economic operations, the power supply in Luanda has improved dramatically. This has led to a considerable improvement in the ecological balance due to the reduced use of diesel generators.
Ministry of Energy

The last unit was connected to the grid in December 2016 and the entire plant was finally inaugurated in June 2017. It is not only the electricity that has been produced since then that is a win for Angola.

Ceremonial inauguration of Cambambe II - Angola's Vice President Manuel Domingos Vicente unveiled the power plant to 500 international guests at the end of June 2017. A milestone in the expansion of Angola's electricity supply capacity.

A sustainable partnership

The construction phase of Cambambe already provided urgently needed jobs. Training and a permanent training centre are part of the plan to ensure the sustainability of the project. Patric Kiehlmann pointed out:

Our engagement in Angola is long-term. In particular through training, we ensure that the project will have a lasting benefit for decades to come.
Patric Kiehlmann, Head of Sales & Project Management Angola, Voith Division Hydro

The Cambambe I and II hydroelectric power stations will play an important role in ensuring that the country's economy continues to grow rapidly in the future. But in any case, the most important thing is to also improve the daily life of the population.

Scope of services Cambambe I

  • 4 Francis turbines
  • Electromechanical equipment
  • Dismantling and new installation

Technical Data

  • Total installed capacity: 260 MW
  • Type of turbines: Francis Turbine (67 MW each)
  • Drop height: 106 m
  • Flow: 72.2 m3/s
  • Synchronous speed: 231 rpm
  • Runner diameter: 2.98 m

Scope of services Cambambe II

  • Supply and installation of 4 Francis turbine generator units
  • Electromechanical equipment
  • Control technology

Technical Data

  • Total installed capacity: 700 MW
  • Type of turbines: Francis Turbine (178.6 MW each)
  • Drop height: 111,5 m
  • Flow: 172.15 m³/s
  • Synchronous speed: 187.5 rpm
  • Runner diameter: 4.31 m

Please contact me if you have any questions

Patric Kiehlmann

Head of Sales & Project Management Angola

Voith Division Hydro


t +49 7321 37 9272