EAIF provides €35m loan for West Africa’s “largest” biomass plant in Côte d’Ivoire

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The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), a Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) company, has has provided a €35m senior loan facility to develop a 46MW biomass power plant in Côte d’Ivoire, the largest facility of its kind in West Africa.
Biovea Energie, which is owned by EDF International, Meridiam and SIFCA, will own and operate the plant when operational, having been awarded a 25-year power purchase agreement to supply the Ivorian grid.
The capital injection from EAIF, alongside commitments from lead arranger Proparco, a subsidiary of the French Development Agency, will advance the Ivorian energy sector’s net zero pathway and brings a first-of-its-kind project to financial close.
PIDG, through its Technical Assistance programme, said it will support the project’s delivery through an €8m Viability Gap Funding grant, one of the largest it has disbursed.
The €237m venture is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 4.5 million tonnes over its 25-year lifetime.
The project is further signifies an innovative approach in achieving Côte d’Ivoire’s goal to generate 45% of energy from renewable resources by 2030.
The new plant also reinforces the government’s priority to expand access to electricity by 2025 – improving energy security in rural areas with an electrification rate as low as 38%.
Located in Ayebo, 100km east of the capital, Abidjan – Biovea Energie’s project is expected to benefit 1.7 million people.
Approximately 12,000 will be local out-growers, supplying up to 70% of the palm tree leaves and branches that will fuel the power plant.
Integrating local farmers into the supply chain diversifies their revenue and welcomes greater income security, boosting their earnings by an expected 15%.
While supporting longevity in income generation for out-growers, the project will also deliver economic opportunities during its construction phase.
Development of the plant and accompanying transmission, transport and communications infrastructure will generate 500 jobs.
An additional 1,000 roles will benefit the local economy once Biovea Energie commissions the project.
Approximately 520,000 tonnes of agricultural residue that would otherwise be discarded will be utilised. Once it has been processed to power the plant's turbines, the residue's ashes will be provided to farmers as natural fertiliser for crops.
Better energy security in the country also benefits its neighbours, as the country's evolving energy market serves as an essential exporter of electricity to six of its neighbouring countries.
Once commissioned, the plants will align with PIDG’s commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal on Access to Clean and Affordable Energy (SDG 7).
Commenting on the transaction, Olivia Carballo from Ninety One, fund manager of the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund, said: “As such a crucial energy market to one of the continent’s most important production hubs, impacts of a greener economy extend beyond the borders of Côte d’Ivoire. It is emblematic of the many resources we can leverage to accelerate growth across Africa and do so inclusively while contributing to the sustainability of thousands of livelihoods in the area.”
Biovea Energie’s CFO, Franck Koblavi, commented: “We are delighted to close the deal as it has been highly anticipated and moves us closer to evolving the country’s energy mix and progressing an ambitious but attainable sustainability agenda. Working with best-in-class partners has ensured deep deliberation to other aspects of creating impact and will ensure quality service delivery from investment to energy production.”

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