LUSAKA, May 8 (Reuters) - Zambia will complete its first large-scale 50 megawatt (MW) solar power generation plant in September this year as the nation battles a power deficit which threatens industrial output, a state-owned agency said on Tuesday.
The electricity shortfall has forced Africa’s second-largest copper producer to ration power supply to the mines, the biggest consumers.
The $60 million project in Lusaka is being financed through a combination of equity and debt, a spokeswoman for the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) said.
The power project is being undertaken with Neoen/First Solar.
“The IFC and OPIC are providing the debt while the shareholders Neoen/First Solar and IDC have provided the equity,” IDC spokeswoman Namakau Mukelabai said, referring to the the World Bank’s financing arm and a U.S. government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets.
The World Bank programme aims to help governments deliver cheap and clean energy by helping them run competitive auctions and reduce investment risks.
It includes a full suite of World Bank products and services, including IFC financing and advice as well as guarantees from the group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency arm.
Mukelabai said a second 50 MW solar power project undertaken with Enel Green Power was expected to reach a financial close within the second quarter of 2018.
The two bidders had put their tariffs at 6.02 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and 7.84 cents per kWh, respectively, and the proposed tariffs would remain fixed for 25 years.
Mukelabai said a second round of bidding for large-scale solar projects was planned for up to 300 MW and would be spread in the Copperbelt, Central, Eastern and Lusaka provinces. (Reporting by Chris Mfula, editing by Louise Heavens)