EIB, other lending institutions invest in Guinea hydropower plant upgrades

Financing by the European Investment Bank will increase the cumulative output capacity at four Guinea hydropower plants from 75 MW to 122 MW.

The deal, signed in Brussels by Guinean Minister of Economy and Finance H.E. Karamokoba Camara, and EIB vice president Pim van Ballekom, represents the bank’s first investments in the west African state since sanctions were lifted following a coup in 2008.

“West Africa faces huge energy challenges and the European Investment Bank is committed to supporting investment across Africa that both supports economic activity and improves lives,” van Ballekom said.

The financing will be used for improvements at the Grand Chutes, Donkea, Baneah and Garafiri projects, with substations at Sonfonia and Kipe to also receive upgrades.

EIB did not specify the amount of financing the deal will provide, but said it is also being supported by investments from the Republic of Guinea, Islamic Development Bank, Kuwait Development Fund, World Bank and African Development Bank.

Though none of the projects are located in the areas of Guinea most affected by outbreaks of the Ebola virus, EIB said the energy generated by the plants will also help benefit the country’s medical sector.

“The Ebola epidemic is yet to be contained, but it is essential that the international community does not abandon the region,” van Ballekom said. “We stand ready to do all we can to assist now and support economic recovery in the years ahead.”

HydroWorld.com reported that Guinea’s Ministry of Energy and Hydraulics sought expressions of interest from firms to manage state-owned electric utility Electricite de Guinee (EDG) in April.

The ministry said its objective is to gradually introduce greater private sector participation in the electricity sector. Its power system includes an interconnected western network supplying the largest concentration of electricity consumers, including Conakry, as well as a small interconnected network in the center of the country, and isolated centers elsewhere in the country.

It said Guinea is known for having the largest hydropower potential in West Africa with capacity estimated at 6,000 MW. Projects include 75-MW Garafiri, undergoing rehabilitation on the Konkoure River; 515-MW Souapiti, proposed for the Konkoure; 90-MW Fomi, to be built on the Niandan River; and 240-MW Kaleta, being built on the Konkoure.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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