French Development Agency issues tender for Benin’s first solar park

The French Development Agency (AFD) has issued an expression of interest for the construction of a 25 MW solar power project in Benin. The plant will be located in Onigbolo, in the Plateau Department, southern Benin, and will be the country’s first ground-mounted solar park. Interested developers must send their bids by February 19.

The solar facility will deliver power to the country’s state-owned utility, SBEE under a long-term PPA. The project is being financed by the EU and AFD with around €60 million. The French agency is providing around 80% of financing, while the EU is responsible for the remaining funds.

Benin is currently seeking to improve its weak power system. The country imports around 80% of the power it consumes from neighboring countries Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria. On top of this, only a third of its population currently has access to electricity.

In order to help Benin’s government improve power supply, the World Bank approved a $60 million credit facility in June, to be used the operational performance of SBEE.

Benin has seen energy demand grow considerably over the past year, as a result of economic growth, urbanization and an increase in population. The country, however, has a current power generation capacity of just 140 MW, with a predominance of fuel biomass.

“The energy sector’s difficulties have worsened over the past few years, and the issue of regular supply and cost of electric power increasingly seems to be a major obstacle to the country’s inclusive and sustainable growth,” the African Development Bank (AFDB) stressed in a recent report on Benin.

The local government is hoping to improve power shortages through a new plan aimed at bringing online around 150 MW of new generation capacity, which includes the 25 MW project in Onigbolo.