>@Antonie Kerwien/EIB
©Antonie Kerwien/EIB

The signing ceremony of the financing contract took place on Friday 23 April 2021 at the Kaloum Hotel in Conakry, and was attended by members of the Guinean government, as well as representatives of the European Union and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

This new EU support for the interconnector project between the hydroelectric power plants of Guinea and Mali as part of the West African Power Pool will provide millions of people in the region will access to clean and affordable energy. Once complete the new 225 kV interconnector power line will provide an alternative to expensive and unreliable generators on the electricity grid and supply green power to local villages and the wider region.

The latest EIB support for sustainable energy in Africa includes a new €170 million 25-year loan for the 225 kV Linsan-Fomi transmission line, representing the largest ever EIB financing for investment in Guinea, as part of €300 million total EIB support for the Guinea-Mali interconnector project (PIEGM). This is alongside €30 million in EU grant support under the External Investment Plan.

The importance of new investment to increase access to clean energy was highlighted at a COVID-19-compliant virtual signature ceremony attended by Mamadi Camara, Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Guinea, Bountouraby Yattara, Minister of Energy of the Republic of Guinea, EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle and European Union Ambassador to Guinea Josep Coll.

In his speech on this occasion, Mamadi Camara, Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Guinea, first recalled the enormous hydroelectric potential of his country, before greeting and thanking the EIB and the European Union on behalf of the President of the Republic, Professor Alpha Condé, and the Guinean people for financing this very large-scale project. The initiative will make it possible to provide renewable energy to far-apart urban and rural communities, as well as in 11 countries connected to the West African Power Pool, including neighbouring Mali.

The minister stressed that the planning and implementation of the new 225 kV Linsan-Fomi electricity link is benefiting from the EIB’s unique technical, financial, environmental and social expertise. Guinea is pleased to partner with Team Europe to provide green energy to Africa.

Lastly, the minister said that since 2010, Guinea has been implementing an ambitious programme of major infrastructure work in the field of renewable energy in order to improve its energy mix. The construction of the Kaléta (240 MW – entered service in 2015) and Souapiti (450 MW – currently being completed) hydroelectric dams is part of this programme. The government’s goal is to improve access to energy for households, bringing the electrification rate to more than 80% by 2025.

The completion of the 225 kV Linsan-Fomi interconnector will link the Guinea-Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea (CLSG), and Gambia River Basin Development Organisation (OMVG) projects, covering extensive rural electrification programmes along the power line corridors.

In his speech, EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle commented on the Bank's reasons for providing €300 million in financing this project, including €170 million for the 225 kV Linsan-Fomi electric transmission line. It is the biggest loan ever granted by the EIB for an investment in Guinea and will facilitate the construction of the missing link between national and subregional electricity networks. He also emphasised the fact that harnessing renewable energy is key for economic and social development and the new power line will supply affordable and reliable electricity to millions of people in Guinea, Mali and across West Africa. He concluded his speech by stating that the project had come into being thanks to the close cooperation between Guinea, Mali, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the West African Development Bank, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, the West African Power Pool (WAPP) and Team Europe, as well as the fact that they were all pursuing common clean energy objectives.

Josep Coll, Ambassador of the European Union to Guinea, reiterated the commitment of Team Europe to working with its African partners to support climate action and improve access to reliable and affordable energy. He added that the EU support for the Guinea-Mali interconnector has an innovative approach that combines long-term concessional financing from the EIB with European Commission grants under the External Investment Plan. He concluded that this project of crucial importance for Guinea and West Africa will change the lives of millions of people in the subregion and make an important contribution to the global transition to green energy.

A 340 km green power connection for West Africa

The new 340 km, 225 kV transmission line traversing Guinea from west to east between the Linsan (Labé region) and Fomi (Kankan region) substations will link the Kaléta and Souapiti hydroelectric power plants (with total capacity of 690 MW), as well as other facilities, to the West African Power Pool. It will include long-distance transmission links (also financed by the EIB) to Mali, Senegal and the Gambia to the west and north, and Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone to the east and south.

In concrete terms, the new interconnector will connect two currently separate regional networks (Gambia River Basin Development Organisation (OMVG) and the 225 kV Guinea-Mali interconnector), and provide a reliable and more environmentally friendly alternative to expensive generators and power plants using imported fuel oil.

The 225 kV Linsan-Fomi transmission line scheme includes construction of new local electricity distribution plants to supply rural villages close to the new line and transmission plants to connect to existing energy infrastructure.

Team Europe working with African and international partners to support sustainable development

The total €300 million EIB financing and €30 million EU grant support for the 225 kV Guinea-Mali interconnector will complement financing provided by Guinea and Mali, as well as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the West African Development Bank and ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development.

Using international best-practice to protect forests and support local communities

The new 225 kV Linsan-Fomi electric transmission line passes through environmentally sensitive forests. Women from local communities will be employed to reforest more than 3 100 ha of dense woodland and wooded savannah and replace forests removed in a 40 metre corridor along the 340 km line, to protect primates from electrocution.

Local birdlife will also be managed through ornithological monitoring in accordance with Birdlife International measures.

Building on EIB support for transformational energy investment across Africa

Over the last decade the EIB has provided more than €5.3 billion for energy investment across Africa, including clean power generation, energy distribution and off-grid renewable energy.

In 2020 the EIB provided €4.7 billion for new investment across Africa, including 71% in fragile and vulnerable regions.