The World Bank’s board of directors have approved a $200 million loan to facilitate a West African regional power transmission network that will stretch across Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
The loan will fund the construction of transmission lines for the OMVG Interconnection Project that will run across the four countries as well as ground wires equipped with fibre-optic cables to improve public communications, reports Nigerian newspaper The Guardian.
Move away from thermal power
According to the World Bank, support of the OMVG Interconnection Project will help countries in West Africa to transition from using existing expensive thermal power generation to more sustainable and cost-efficient resources such as hydropower and gas.
The bank said gas reserves situated along the coast from Côte d’Ivoire to Nigeria and in Mauritania can be converted into power.
Colin Bruce, regional director of integration for Africa at the World Bank, stated: “Regional power trade is critical in West Africa. By grouping together the energy demands of the four countries, the OMVG Interconnection Project transmission lines will enable larger and more efficient generation of electricity, which is essential for business development, job creation, income generation, and international competitiveness.”
Supporting West African power development
The OMVG Interconnection Project was also described as the much needed backbone for the West African Power Pool’s energy infrastructure, according to The Guardian.
In addition to the World Bank’s International Development Association, which assists the world’s poorest countries with grants for projects that will develop the economic growth of that particular country, the project will be financed by:
- The French Development Agency
- The African Development Bank
- The Islamic Development Bank
- The West African Development Bank
- The European Investment Bank
- The Kuwait Fund
- The German Government (KfW)
The four West African states will provide approximately $16 million to service the loan interest during the construction phase, with the total project valued at $711 million.
Pedro E. Sanchez, project task team leader at the World Bank, claims that increasing power trade in West Africa will help strengthen political and economic integration and promote increased regional stability, local media reported.
Sanchez said: “The OMVG interconnection is potentially transformational and economically significant by helping new generation capacity to come on-line.”
He added: “New high-speed broadband connectivity to the four countries provided by the fibre optic cable included in the interconnection will bring new communication tools to households, businesses, and institutions throughout the region, helping to boost job opportunities, reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for millions of people in West Africa.”