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The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) and Proparco will finance a biomass power plant with grid injection in Africa in Côte d’Ivoire in a first for the continent.

Proparco (the private sector financing arm of Agence France de Développement Group) and the EAIF have closed a €165 million ($197 million) project finance deal with a €13 million ($16 million) grant to secure the financing of the Biovea Energie project. EAIF is a Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) Company managed by Ninety-One.

Biovea Energie was the winner of the 25-year concession to design, build, operate and transfer the 46MW biomass plant. The company is incorporated in Côte d’Ivoire and is sponsored by Electricité De France (EDF), Meridiam and Biokala (a joint venture between Meridiam and agro-industrial player SIFCA).

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AIF’s contribution to the deal is around €30 million ($36 million) of debt while PIDG Technical Assistance provides an €8 million ($10 million) Viability Gap Funding grant, Proparco commits €140 million ($167 million) of blended finance (€135 million at a concessional margin and €5 million from the Viability Gap Funding grant).

The eventual power plant will be supplied with about 450,000 tons of palm tree waste thanks to a long term fuel supply agreement signed with SIFCA subsidiary, PalmCi. They will source 30% of the biomass needed for the plant from its own existing industrial palm oil plantations and 70% from out-growers.

Biomass plant for job creation and CO2 mitigation

The project will help create 500 jobs during the construction period and more than 1,000 jobs or full-time equivalents once it is operational. 70% of the biomass is expected to be supplied by local smallholder farms who are expected to realise an average income increase of about 20%. There are currently 12,000 smallholders in the company’s supply change. It is hoped the Biovea project will help avoid the emission of 340,000 cubic tons of CO2 annually once the plant is operational.

Proparco CE Grégory Clemente said the Biovea project will contribute to the development of a  sustainable agricultural supply chain and energy production using local fuel in Côte d’Ivoire. “Proparco is extremely proud to have accompanied EDF, Meridiam and SIFCA, three clients with which we have a long history of cooperation in the development and blended financing of this project from the very beginning. This project will contribute to job creation and revenue increase of households in rural areas a well as important CO2 emissions avoidance.”

Originally published by Theresa Smith on esi-africa.com