France and EU finance Benin’s first solar power plant

France’s Development Agency (AFD) and the European Union have agreed to finance a 40 billion CFA franc (€60 million) solar project to be developed in Benin.

The AFD will provide around 32.8 billion CFA franc in funds for the 25 MW projects, while the EU will contribute the remaining 6.6 billion CFA franc.

According to a statement from the French Embassy in Benin, the Defissol project will be located in the municipality of Pobé, in the Plateau Department. It will be the country’s first large-scale PV power project, and one of the largest in Western Africa. The facility will provide power to local electric utility, SBEE.

Benin’s government claims the project will reduce power prices for households, and will help stabilize the network of SBEE.

In June, the World Bank approved a $60 million credit facility to help Benin improve its electric system. These funds are being used to improve the operational performance of SBEE, the expansion of electricity access to peri-urban areas of Cotonou, Porto-Novo, Parakou and Natitingou, and the promotion of community-based management of forest resources.

Benin currently covers around 80% of its power demand with imports. Only a third of its population has access to electricity.