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China’s EximBank has approved $1.3 billion in financing for a utility-scale hydroelectric plant in Guinea.

The 450MW plant is expected to produce sufficient capacity to export to the west African country’s neighbouring countries.

Reuters reported that China Water Electric (CWE) began building the dam in December 2015, and the government said at the time it expected construction to take about five years.

In a statement on Tuesday, Guinea’s government said: “The signing of the loan agreement will take place very soon, which will allow the already advanced construction work to accelerate.”

Power export

A senior adviser to the President, Alpha Conde, said the loan would be reimbursed through electricity sales to neighbouring countries by a joint venture between the Guinean state and CWE. Read more: Guinea-Mali high voltage line project obtains funding

Reuters reported that despite substantial hydroelectric potential in Guinea from its 12 major rivers, only about a quarter of the population has access to electricity, according to USAID, due to failing infrastructure and mismanagement of the sector.

Guinea sits on about a third of the world’s bauxite and has seen production of the aluminum ore surge in the past few years, but Guineans regularly complain that mineral wealth has not translated into improved living standards.

African Utility Week