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PRESS RELEASE

BEI/12/194

11 December 2012

Post-conflict West African power networks get EUR 75m European support

Separate power networks in West Africa are set to be joined following a new regional electricity project backed by the European Investment Bank. Work to link power systems of Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will progress following formal approval of EUR 75m support from the European Investment Bank to the government of Sierra Leone for a regional power line interconnecting these four countries. This is the first project financed by the European Investment Bank in Sierra Leone since 2003. The EIB is a key lender supporting infrastructure and private sector development in Africa.

The European Investment Bank support was signed in Freetown by senior representatives of the European Investment Bank, Sierra Leone and the West African Power Pool.

"Ensuring access to electricity is essential for economic activity and growth. The European Investment Bank recognises specific acute challenges in post-conflict West Africa and is confident that this crucial energy infrastructure initiative will transform opportunities in the region. We are pleased to continue our close engagement with the West African Power Pool and contribute to enhanced regional cooperation. This investment will allow trade in electricity between Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea for the first time." said Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice-President responsible for sub-Saharan Africa.

The EUR 370m scheme includes a new 1350km high-voltage transmission back-bone linking four states with a combined population of 40 million to improve reliable access to cost-effective electricity, and connect them to the West African Power Pool (WAPP). The transmission link will significantly reduce power costs in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

When completed, the transmission line will enable power exports from Côte d’Ivoire to the other three countries, and the line will later support development of the large hydropower potential in Guinea. The landmark project will contribute to economic development in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by increasing availability of electricity in rural and urban areas of these countries.

The initiative complements long-standing technical support provided to the West African Power Pool by the European Investment Bank and the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund. The project will make a significant contribution to rural electrification, and reducing poverty in the region, as twelve substations included in the project will act as hubs for the electrification of key cities in the region. The scheme will greatly reduce dependency on expensive diesel generators to produce electricity.

This scheme is a key project for the Government of Sierra Leone and a priority for the West African Power Pool. Through the implementation of priority infrastructure such as this regional power interconnection, the WAPP aims at the creation of a regional electricity market in West Africa to foster power exchanges among the ECOWAS countries and permit access to affordable energy resources.

The project is co-financed by the AfDB, KfW and the World Bank, and receives significant grant support from the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (ITF), a European initiative for blending loan and grant financing of African infrastructure projects.

Support will be provided by the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund through a EUR 12.5m grant subsidising the EIB loan as well as through technical assistance of up to EUR 4.7m. A third EUR 10m grant from the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund will be made available to the African Development Bank for the financing of rural electrification in Sierra Leone.

Press contact:

Richard Willis, +352 621 555 758, willis@eib.org

Website: www.eib.org/press - Press office: +352 4379 21000 – press@eib.org


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