VENTURES AFRICA – The government of the Ivory Coast has concluded a 20 year $500 million loan deal with China’s Export-Import Bank (Exim), to fund the construction of a new 275 megawatt(MW) hydropower station, which is the biggest deal between the two countries in over three decades.
“This is a $500 million loan over 20 years with an (interest) rate of 2 percent and a grace period of nine years,” Zhang Guoqing, Chinese ambassador to the Ivory Coast revealed at the signing ceremony, adding: “This is the largest loan agreed with Ivory Coast in over 30 years.”
Not only will the Chinese state-owned bank finance the project, but a state-owned hydropower engineering company – Sinohydro- will also undertake the construction of the plant, with building due to begin in February, and billed to take up to 56 months for completion.
The government of the Ivory Coast has been pushing for rapid expansion of the country’s energy producing capacity, setting a target of a 150 megawatt increase in output per year for the next ten years.
On completion, the current station – which is to be located in the town of Soubre – will be the country’s largest hydropower plant to date.
“The Soubre project … will allow us to boost Ivory Coast’s hydroelectric capacity, balance our energy mix and confront at a low cost the rising growth in domestic consumption,” Mines and Energy Minster Adama Toungara commented on the deal.
Toungara also revealed that the government is considering a feasibility study for a second similarly sized dam on the Louga River, with the study potentially taking place later on this year.
The government has pledged to spend in excess of $500 million on renewing and upgrading the country’s energy sector, and is continuously searching for loan deals in order to push energy sector development.