Mali’s first independent power project – a 122 million euro ($139.06 million), 90-megawatt diesel plant – will go online next week in the country’s gold-rich south-west, a board member of the operator said.
The new plant could spur more of the foreign investment Mali struggles to attract since Islamist militants seized the desert north in 2012.
French forces intervened the following year to wrest back control, but fighters with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State regrouped.
Mali currently has around 350 MW of installed power production capacity through its state utility company, primarily from hydro-electric projects hit by irregular rainfall in recent years.
Only around 30% of Malians have access to electricity.
“Yesterday we finished final testing and we’re going into operation on October 31,” Albatros Energy board member Ruth Beckers told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Cape Town, South Africa.
Albatros holds a 20-year concession to operate the plant and sell output to state-owned power utility Energie du Mali.
African Infrastructure Investment Managers, a division of Old Mutual, holds a 44% stake in Albatros and West Africa-focused Redox Power Solutions owns 31%.
With Albatros providing reliable, round-the-clock power for the grid, Beckers said Mali was now attracting investments in solar power.
“When you have one successful project, it’s like an avalanche effect and you create new investments, hopefully not only power but in other areas,” she said.
The new power plant is near Kayes, not far from the border with Senegal.
The area has remained largely unaffected by the unrest farther north and is home to gold mines operated by Canadian firms Iamgold Corp and B2Gold as well as Johannesburg-listed AngloGold Ashanti.
Mali is Africa’s third biggest producer of gold after South Africa and Ghana.