EIB to provide loan for 30 MW PV project in West Africa

Veteran solar analyst Paula Mints has a saying that it is a long way from power points to power plants. This is particularly true of Africa. Besides a successful program in South Africa, a large number of the projects announced go years without progress.

In light of this, EIB’s announcement that it will loan €23 million to a PV project to be operated by Burkina Faso’s state utility SONABEL is groundbreaking. Mercom Capital notes that despite many project announcements, this is one of only five PV project funding announcements in the last eighteen months in the African continent outside of South Africa.

At 30 MW, both the project and the size of the loan are larger than any of the other four. In fact, this will be the largest PV project in the thousands of kilometers between a group of PV projects which China’s Powerway is currently building in Algeria and South Africa.

In addition to the 20-year loan from the EIB, the project has received an €25 million grant from the European Union, and is set to receive financing from the French Development Agency. The total cost of the project on the outskirts of the Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou is estimated at €70.5 million.

EIB has provided few other details about the project, however Mercom Capital CEO Raj Prabhu says that the developers and project partners may come along later. “It is not uncommon for them to announce financing and then partners along the way,” says Prabhu.

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest nations on earth, and the project has the potential to be significant for the nation’s electrification and economic development. EIB estimates that less than a quarter of the nation has access to electricity, and that demand for electricity is growing 10% annually.

“Electricity in essential for economic activity and the European Investment Bank is committed to supporting energy investment that will improve lives across Africa,” notes EIB VP Pim van Ballekom.