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.
“Electricity in essential for economic activity and the European Investment Bank is committed to supporting energy investment that will improve lives across Africa. The significant support for the new solar farm builds on our strong partnership over many years with Sonabel. Burkina Faso can be proud to host the new facility that will act as a benchmark for renewable energy in West Africa.” said Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President.
“The European Union congratulates the State of Burkina and SONABEL on reaching this crucial milestone for new energy investment in Burkina Faso and thanks all those for helping to make this project possible. The Delegation of the European Union to Burkina Faso is particularly pleased that having supported preparation of the project for many years financial support has now been agreed. This will be alongside the 25 million EUR, 16 billion CFA, grant that the EU has allocated for this crucial project. We welcome the significant support of the European Investment Bank, as the EU Bank agreed today, and also from AFD, that will help improve electricity supply in the country and demonstrate the opportunity for countries across Africa to benefit from renewable energy.” said Ambassador Alain Holleville, Head of the European Union Delegation to Burkina Faso.
Agreement for financing the solar project follows detailed feasibility studies to evaluate local energy needs and strengthen project implementation supported by the European Union. The European Union Delegation in Ouagadougou has supported the project since the start and worked closely with promoter SONABEL. Alongside the EIB, financing will also be provided by the French Development Agency and European Union and over a hundred jobs will be created during construction of the solar plant.
The European Investment Bank is one of the world’s largest financiers of renewable energy and energy infrastructure. In recent years the EIB has supported rehabilitation of power plants in Liberia, electricity interconnections across West Africa, concentrated solar power in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa’s largest wind farm in Lake Turkana in Kenya.
Since the first operation in Burkina Faso in 1970 the EIB has provided nearly EUR 200 million for investment in energy, transport and water projects, as well as by local companies, in Burkina Faso.
Photo: "Aerialview ouaga" by Neonstar - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.