Mali’s first independent power project (IPP) is set to go online this week, a 90-MW diesel-fired plant located in the western city of Kayes, near the Senegalese border.
“We’ve just yesterday finished the final testing and we’re going in operation on October 31,” said Albatros Energy board member Ruth Beckers last week.
Albatros Energie Mali (AEM) is building the 122 million euro (US$114 million) power station.
Albatros holds a 20-year concession to operate the plant and sell its output to state-owned power utility Energie du Mali.
The key stakeholders in AEM are African Infrastructure Investment Managers, a division of Old Mutual, with a 44% stake, and West Africa-focused Redox Power Solutions, which owns 31%.
The AEM project will lift Mali’s current 352 MW of generating capacity by 25%, adding security of supply to a country where mainly hydro power projects have been hit by irregular rainfall in recent years, and only around 30% of Malians have access to electricity.
Beckers said Mali was now attracting investments in solar power, paralleling the reliable, round-the-clock power for the grid that Albatros will provide.
“When you have one successful project, it’s like an avalanche effect and you create new investments, hopefully not only power but in other areas,” she said.
Mali has struggled to attract foreign investment since militant fighters with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State seized large tracts of the desert north in 2012.
However, the AEM plant sits in an area largely unaffected by the civil unrest and home to gold mines operated by firms including Iamgold Corp, B2Gold and AngloGold Ashanti.
In mid-October, French IPP Akuo Energy closed the financing facilities on a 50-MW solar PV plant in Sikasso, Mali.
The 78 million euro (US$89 million) Kita solar farm has been in development by Akuo Energy since 2014.
It will be the first photovoltaic power station in Mali owned and run by a private sector independent power producer.