On Thursday the 26th of July, the government of Burkina Faso launched the construction of a 33 megawatts (MW) solar power plant. The total cost of the project is 47.5 million euros ($53.4m) making it the largest in the Sahel region which boasts of abundant sunlight yet inadequate electricity supply. The plant being constructed in the Zagtouli village near the capital Ouagadougou, will have 129,600 solar panels installed over a total area of 60 hectares, according to Burkinabe authorities.
The decision to build a large solar plant arises from the poor electricity generation in the country, about 80% of the 19 million population of Burkina Faso are without electricity and the rest experience intermittent power cuts which affect the economy greatly.The country plans to add an additional 100MW of solar energy to its national grid which produces 200MW of power.
The Zagtouli solar power paves the way for development of renewable energy in Burkina Faso which is one of the commitments made at COP 21 in Paris. The construction process which will take 14 months will be led by French company Le Cegelec, a subsidiary of French group Vinci.
Funding for the project is a mix of grants and loans. An European Union grant of 25 million euros and a loan of 22.5 million euros from the French Development Agency (AFD).