Wednesday, 24 September 2014

European Investment Bank backs large West African solar project

The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide EUR 23 million (15 billion CFA) to support investment in one of the largest photovoltaic power stations in sub-Saharan Africa. The EUR 70.5 million (46 billion CFA) scheme will be constructed at Zagtouli on the outskirts of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso and operated by national electricity utility, SONABEL. The new plant is expected to act as a reference for future solar investment across the continent.

Once operational the new solar plant will significantly increase power generation in Burkina Faso, reduce dependence on energy imports from Ivory Coast and Ghana and help prevent power cuts. It is estimated that less than a quarter of the country’s inhabitants have access to electricity. In recent years power demand in the country has increased annually by 10 per cent, however power cuts and limited electricity access have seriously hindered economic growth.

The 20 year loan agreement for the 30 megawatt facility, to be built outside the capital Ouagadougou, was signed at the European Investment Bank headquarters by Lucien Bembamba, Minister of Economy and Finance for the Republic of Burkina Faso and Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for lending in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific. Jean-Christophe Ilboudo, Director General of Sonabel and Frederic Korsaga, Ambassador of Burkina Faso to Luxembourg were also present.

“The European Investment Bank is a strong partner for Burkina Faso and this close cooperation over many years has enabled significant investment in new water and energy infrastructure that has created jobs across the country. The new support agreed today for investment by Sonabel in renewable energy is an importance milestone in the long-standing cooperation between Burkina Faso and Europe.” said Lucien Bembamba, Minister of Economy and Finance for the Republic of Burkina Faso.