The Manantali Dam is a multi-purpose dam on the Bafing river in the Senegal River basin, 90 km to the south-east of Bafoulabé, in Mali's Kayes Region. Early planning for the dam began in 1972 when the Organization for the Development of the Senegal River was set up by Mali, Mauritania and Senegal to develop the agricultural and hydropower potential of the basin. The World Bank declined to fund the dam in 1979, considering it an unreasonable investment. However, financing was secured from mainly European and construction on the dam began in 1982. It was completed in 1988, but without the hydropower plant. In 1989 the Mauritania–Senegal Border War stopped all work on the project.
A Swiss journalist who visited Manantali in 1988 described the project as a "luxury car without a motor". In 1993 Carl–Dieter Spranger, then Germany's minister for development assistance, called Manantali an "act of economic and environmental nonsense". When the conflict subsided in 1991 the OMVS sought a new loan package for the hydropower plant, which was finally put together in 1997. The dam began to produce electricity for Senegal, Mali and Mauritania in 2001.
Today the dam managed by the tripartite Manantali Energy Management Company, the Société de gestion de l’énergie de Manantali (SOGEM) created in 1997. SOGEM in turn has signed a 15-year concession contract with the private company EEM, a subsidiary of the South African national power company ESKOM, to operate the plant. OMVS is represented on the board of SOGEM. Citing "contractual difficulties in executing the contract", Eskom has entered into an agreement with SOGEM to terminate it as of 1 October 2011, according to the company's 2011 financial report.