MALI – Akuo, a French independent power producer (IPP), has commissioned a 50 Mega Watts (MW) solar photovoltaic power plant in Kita, about 180 km west of Bamako, in the Kayes region of Mali, one of the largest photovoltaic installations in West Africa.

This project was implemented in partnership with Pash Global, an investor active in the renewable energy sector.

The West African Development Bank, the National Bank for Agricultural Development, the Dutch Development Finance Co., and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund provided funding.

“We are delighted to have co-invested a 49.9% share in this prestigious project, the first of its kind in Mali,” said Kofi Owusu Bempah and Vine Mwense, co-founders of PASH.

“Today we want to accelerate our development in Africa by targeting a gigawatt of power plants using renewable energies in the medium term.”

Pierre-Antoine Berthold – Director, Akuo Energy Africa

The €77 million (US$91.3 million) PV plant is Mali’s first IPP solar project. Akuo Energy secured a 28-year power purchase agreement for the array from Mali’s power utility, Energie du Mali-SA, in October 2015.

“Today we want to accelerate our development in Africa by targeting a gigawatt of power plants using renewable energies in the medium term. This first major project demonstrates, in particular, the viability of the agro-energy model in the Sahel region,” said Pierre-Antoine Berthold, director of Akuo Energy Africa.

The company said that the project also has an agricultural and social component. A 5-hectare plot of land next to the project site will provide gardens for the communities near the solar plant. The Akuo Foundation will also provide training on organic gardening techniques.

According to the latest statistics from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Mali had installed just 20 MW of PV capacity by the end of 2019.

“This plant is contributing to reducing the country’s-dependence on hydroelectricity – currently jeopardized by climate change – and vis-a-vis imported fossil fuel and the use of wood fuel from the country’s natural forests,” the company said.

The electricity produced is sold to the public company Electricité du Mali (EDM) under a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

The solar power plant, which occupies a 100-hectare site, is made up of 187,000 panels and solar inverters capable of delivering 50 MWp, making it one of the largest solar parks in the West African sub-region. Its power is capable of supplying up to 120,000 Malian households.

The installation is therefore an important part of Mali’s electrification process, which has been greatly delayed due to political and security instability, with more than 49% of the population still without access to electricity, according to the World Bank’s 2018 report.

In addition to its energy contribution, the solar farm contributes to Mali’s sustainable development, as it will help avoid the emission of 52,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

“This large-scale project thus strengthens the country (Mali), a signatory of the 1995 Kyoto Protocol, in its commitment to fighting climate change and enables it to get closer to its national renewable energy objectives by 2030,” Akuo Energy points out.

“Furthermore, the plant contributes to reducing the country’s dependence on hydropower, which is currently under threat from climate change, but also on imported fossil fuels and the use of wood fuel from natural inland forests.”

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