Bui Dam in the Black Volta River, Ghana

The recently Chinese-built Bui Dam was planned since the 1920s as part of the Volta River Project for producing electricity fby processing the country’s bauxite.


The Bui Dam is a 400-megawatt hydroelectric project built on the Black Volta river at the Bui Gorge, at the southern end of Bui National Park. The Bui hydro-electric dam had first been envisaged in 1925 and remained on the drawing board since the 1960s, when Ghana’s largest dam, the Akosombo Dam, was built further downstream on the Volta River. By 1978 planning for the Bui Dam was advanced with support from Australia and the World Bank. However, four military coups stalled the plans. At the time Ghana began to be plagued by energy rationing, which has persisted since then. This created goodwill among the population towards the construction of the plant. In 1992, the project was revived and a first feasibility study was conducted by the French firm Coyne et Bellier.

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Basic Data
NameBui Dam in the Black Volta River, Ghana
ProvinceNorthern/ Brong-Ahafo Region
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Establishment of reserves/national parks
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsBui Dam is a gravity roller-compacted concrete dam located at the Bui National Park in Ghana.

The dam generates 400MW of power and facilitates irrigation of about 30,000ha of land. Construction was initially estimated at $622m, but a cost review conducted in 2012 raised that amount by $168m. [2]

Just downstream of the dam on the left bank is the dam's powerhouse. The intake at the reservoir feeds water through three penstocks to the three separate 133 MW Francis turbine-generators. Each turbine-generator has a step-up transformer to increase the voltage to transmission level. A fourth unit, with a penstock on the spillway, will provide four megawatts for station service and black start power, and will provide minimum flow to maintain river levels if the main units should be shut down. The power station will have an installed capacity of 400 megawatts and an estimated average annual generation of 980 gigawatt-hours (3,500 TJ). The power station's switchyard is located 300 metres (980 ft) downstream. Four 161 kV transmission lines connect the substation to the Ghana grid [3].
Project Area (in hectares)44,000
Level of Investment (in USD)622,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population2,600 people relocated [1]
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesSinohydro Corporation Limited (Sinohydro) from China
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Global warming
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
OtherLoss of a large part of Bui National Park, a protected savannah with pristine river forests, spectacular landscapes, and a diversity of species. The country’s largest hippopotamus population (Hippopotamus amphibius) could face extinction. The dam will be a source of greenhouse gases (4). (1).
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
OtherRisk of schistosomiasis ( bilharzia).
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Violations of human rights
Other2500 people displaced. Dowstream fishing has suffered through reduction in catch and unregulated water releases from the dam while farming has seen a reduction in farm sizes

2,500 people displaced. Fishing downstream has suffered.
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The dam has been built. Damage to displaced local people, and damage to wildlife.
Sources and Materials

Hausermann, H. (2018). “Ghana must Progress, but we are Really Suffering”: Bui Dam, Antipolitics Development, and the Livelihood Implications for Rural People. Society & Natural Resources, 31(6), 633-648.
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The environmental and social governance of the Bui Dam project in Ghana, by P. Yankson, Alex B. Asiedu, Kwado Owusu. Chapter in Chinese Hydropower Development in Africa and Asia. Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Global Dam-Building Eds. and Urban, F, Chapter: 6, Publisher: Routledge, Editors: Siciliano G., Urban F.
[click to view]

[5] Frauke Urban et al, Chinese Overseas Hydropower Dams and Social Sustainability: The Bui Dam in Ghana and the Kamchay Dam in Cambodia. 09 September 2015, Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies.
[click to view]


PROJECTS. Stephan F. Miescher, University of California. , Santa Barbara & Dzodzi Tsikata, University of Ghana.
[click to view]


[3] Wikipedia page. Bui dam
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[1] International rivers. Bui Dam, Ghana
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[2] Water-technology. Bui Dam Hydroelectricity Project, Ghana
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Media Links

Fact sheet on Bui Dam. EJOLT project.

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Other Documents

View on the reservoir of Bui dam Source: [2]
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Meta Information
Last update06/07/2018