COTE D’IVORE – The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), a member of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), has lent €28m (about US$30.98 million) to fund the expansion of the Azito Energie gas-fired power station in Côte D’Ivoire.

Martijn Proos, Director at EAIF’s fund managers, Investec Asset Management, said:“Azito Energie is a proven business with a management team that has  operated  a successful plant for a number of years.”

Proos explained that expanding Côte D’Ivoire’s base load electricity capacity will improve the resilience of the economy, help stimulate business activity and improve domestic life.

Azito is owned 77% by Globeleq Africa Holding and 23% by Industrial Promotion Service (West Africa).

Known as Azito 4, the additional 253MW capacity being installed at a total cost of €330m (about 365.16 million) at the plant will bring its output up to 710MW, representing 30% of Cote D’Ivoire’s installed generating capacity.

The plant produces electricity at low-cost, with only local hydro-electric facilities providing cheaper power.

“Projects like this are a demonstration of how investors can produce both financial returns, and generate tangible impact through their investments,” Alastair Herbertson, Director at Investec Asset Management, said.

“The EAIF portfolio, managed by the team at Investec Asset Management, ensures that each project contributes directly, demonstrably and quantifiably to furthering sustainable development across the continent,” added Herberston.

This is the second loan EAIF has made to Azito. In 2012, it loaned the company $30m towards the construction of the first plant.

The new financing, which has a term of 15.5 years, met a funding gap that EAIF was comfortable bridging because of the successful management of the existing plant and its resilient cash flows.

In addition, the demand for energy in Côte D’Ivoire, and regionally, continues to grow with additional capacity at the  power station expected to produce 2,170 GHh of electricity annually.

Using an OECD formula for measuring the impact of new generating capacity, Azito 4 has the potential to provide cheaper and cleaner power to up to 4.9 million people.

Construction of the new plant is expected to take around 30 months and all the power produced at the plant will bought by Compagnie Ivoirienne d’Electricité, (CIE) which is a private utility.

CIE a leading provider of electricity and drinking water production and public service management in West Africa and supplies the the locally sourced gas to fuel the power plant.

Apart from the EAIF, other lenders include the International Finance Corporation, Proparco and Western African Development Bank (BOAD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), FMO, DEG and BIO.