One of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) projects is to be funded by the European Investment Bank (EIB) under a 20-year loan agreement, the Bank has announced.

The €70.5m project is to be built on the outskirts of Ougadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, and will be operated by state-owned utility Sonabel. The EIB will provide a €23m ($30m) loan in addition to a €25m grant from the EU and an unspecified contribution from the French Development Agency.

At 30 MW, the project represents one of the largest in the region and is expected to significantly increase Burkina Faso’s power generation capacity, reducing its dependence on imported electricity from neighbouring Ghana and Ivory Coast. According to the EIB, less than one quarter of Burkina Faso’s citizens currently has access to electricity and power cuts are a regular occurrence.

The project is also expected to be a reference for future African solar investment, the EIB said.

“The European Investment Bank is a strong partner for Burkina Faso and this close co-operation over many years has enabled significant investment in new water and energy infrastructure that has created jobs across the country,” said Lucien Bembamba, Burkina Faso’s economy and finance minister. “The new support agreed today for investment by Sonabel in renewable energy is an important milestone in the long-standing cooperation between Burkina Faso and Europe.”

Pim van Ballekom, EIB vice-president, said: “Electricity is essential for economic activity and the European Investment Bank is committed to supporting energy investment that will improve lives across Africa. The significant support for the new solar farm builds on our strong partnership over many years with Sonabel. Burkina Faso can be proud to host the new facility that will act as a benchmark for renewable energy in West Africa.”