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China Commits $49 Million for Burkina Faso’s Donsin Airport Solar Power Plant

The Donsin Airport solar power plant will be equipped with a battery electricity storage system.

Burkina Faso’s transitional parliament approved a $49 million loan from the Export-Import Bank of China (CHEXIM) that will help one of the world’s least electrified countries marginally increase its electricity generation.  

The country’s government officials and CHEXIM signed the concessional loan agreement in September 2023 to construct the 25 MWp solar power plant at Donsin airport in Loumbila, some 23 kilometers north-east of Ouagadougou, the country’s capital.

Burkina Faso’s Transitional Legislative Assembly (ALT), which is made up of 71 deputies, has to validate such agreements.

The solar power plant, equipped with a battery electricity storage system, will be built in 15 months. After that, it is expected to stabilize energy security at the airport while increasing the country’s generation capacity.

According to Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Quarries, the country generates 500MW of the current 714.4MW. Through its power utility, the National Electricity Company (SONABEL), the Sahelian nation imports the deficit from neighboring countries, including Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

While the exact value of the loans Chinese lenders made to Burkina Faso is not explicitly known, the Donsin project will undoubtedly increase the amount. Between 2000 and 2019, Burkina Faso secured only $77 million in loans from China.

In October 2021, however, China’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso Li Jian and the country’s Minister of Energy Ismaël Ouédraogo signed a memorandum of understanding for the provision of a $6.13 million grant for the construction of a 4MW solar power plant in Bazega.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Currently, less than six million of Burkina Faso’s total population have access to electricity. This supply covers only 60% of those in urban areas and a paltry three percent of the rural communities. This creates an opportunity for Chinese capital in the country, whose energy demands are growing, targeting 95% electricity access for urban areas and half of the rural areas by 2030.

The Chinese loan also comes at a time when Burkina Faso is seeking to improve its relations with international partners following the 2022 military coup and the ongoing geopolitics between Russia, the U.S., China and France.

In addition, Burkina Faso is one of the largest solar energy producers in West Africa, surpassing its neighbors Mauritania, Ivory Coast and Mali.

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