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The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), a Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) company, has committed a EUR11.5m senior secured loan to develop the first project-financed solar PV plant and battery energy storage system (BESS) in West Africa, located in Bokhol in the north of Senegal. The Walo facility will be a 10MW/20MWh BESS supplied by a 16 MWp solar photovoltaic plant.

EAIF acted as co-lender alongside the Dutch development bank FMO, to support the development of the €42m landmark project. A Euro equivalent US$1.5m capital grant extended by PIDG Technical Assistance will ensure the project is designed to maximise supply of clean power to Senegal’s grid, whilst remaining economically viable.

Upon completion, Walo will improve energy security in the country, demonstrating the importance of robust energy storage systems to support the electric transmission network and accelerate an efficient transition to renewable energy. Millenium Challenge Corporation, a US government foreign aid agency, recommended the installation of at least 80MW battery storage, with Walo as one of the first in a series of projects.

Africa REN will construct and operate the facility under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) designed to solve issues associated with intermittent energy supply, a key challenge of integrating renewable energy into the grid.

Within 6 years, Senegal has added more than 345MW of clean power, accounting for nearly a quarter of its energy mix. This is a concrete example of the impact of policy implementation prioritising progress towards net-zero and accelerating energy access to above 70%, the 12th highest in Africa.

Greater certainty in power supply has acted as a key catalyst of rapid industrialisation across the country. The value of output from the sector has increased by a third, while its contribution to GDP simultaneously has fallen as Senegal’s economy is rapidly diversifying and modernising.

Walo will deepen Senegal’s economic importance to the region and highlight its ability to implement transformative technology. The first-of-its-kind project will deliver a range of positive impacts, including greater flexibility in energy management and improved reliability of grid operations.

The system will utilise reserve energy when there are deficits, bring power and grid assets online after failures, and supply electricity to the cities in the northern part of Senegal during power outages.

Beyond energy access and reliability of supply, Walo will also boost the local economy through the creation of 150 jobs during construction as well as 20 permanent roles when in operation.

Commenting on the transaction, Tidiane Doucoure, Director at Ninety One, the Fund Manager of EAIF said, “Our investment in Walo is a sign of our confidence in Senegal’s rapidly growing energy sector. We are backing the introduction of innovative renewable energy technology as part of our broader commitment to prioritising investment opportunities with a transformational impact and strong potential for replicability.”