French independent power producer (IPP) Akuo Energy has secured €78-million in financing to build the 50 MW Akuo Kita Solar Photovoltaic (PV) power plant, in southern Mali.
Private sector infrastructure funding organisation Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) reports that the plant will be the first solar PV power station in Mali owned and run by a private sector IPP.
It will also be the largest solar farm in West Africa.
Akuo Kita Solar will sell its power to Electricité du Mali, the national utility, under a 28-year power purchase agreement.
Up to 400 people, including 20 managers, will be employed during the 12-month construction period. When operational, the plant will have 30 permanent staff, all of whom are expected to be from Mali.
Mali’s abundant sunshine makes solar power a critical asset in accelerating the country’s rate of electrification, says EAIF executive director Emilio Cattaneo.
“Mali’s population is expected to double from about 18-million to around 36-million people by 2035 and it is estimated that fewer than five-million people have access to electricity.”
As the population grows and becomes more urban, lifting the rate of electrification will be essential to ensuring social cohesion, stimulating economic activity, alleviating poverty and helping secure political stability, says Cattaneo.
“Akuo Kita Solar is the second power project in Mali to benefit from a debt service reserve account guarantee this year and demonstrates the critical role that credit enhancement can play in improving the viability of essential infrastructure,” explains partner funding organisation GuarantCo CE Lasitha Perera.
“The successful closing of the Akuo Kita financing demonstrates the need for a blend of different financial instruments. This could serve as a good template for future solar schemes,” adds Green Africa Power executive director Peter Hutchinson.
Akuo Kita is EAIF’s second project in Mali. In June 2017, it announced its backing for Albatros Energie Mali, which is building a 90 MW heavy-fuel oil power station in the country.
EAIF is managed by Investec Asset Management, one of the largest third-party investors in private equity, credit, public equity and sovereign debt across the African continent.