French independent power producer Akuo has commissioned a 50 MW solar plant in Kita, about 180 km west of Bamako, in the Kayes region of Mali.
According to the company, the facility is the largest solar park in West Africa. “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,” it said.
The West African Development Bank, the National Bank for Agricultural Development, the Dutch Development Finance Co., and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund provided funding. PASH Global is Akuo’s co-shareholder on the project.
“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.
The €77 million ($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,” said Pierre-Antoine Berthold, director of Akuo Energy Africa. “This first major project demonstrates, in particular, the viability of the agro-energy model in the Sahel region.”
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.