Mauritania-Mali Power Link: A Leap Towards Sustainable Electricity in Sahel

AfDB's Initiative Powers Up Solar and Grid Expansion in Northwest Africa

by Adenike Adeodun

A groundbreaking power project linking Mauritania and Mali is poised to deliver stable electricity to hundreds of thousands of people in these North-West African countries. The Mauritania-Mali 225kV Electricity Interconnection and Solar Power Plant Development Project, an integral part of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Desert to Power Initiative, is rapidly gaining momentum.

The project’s ambitious scope includes:

  1. Establishing a 1,373-kilometre high-voltage electrical interconnection with a 600 MW transfer capacity between Mauritania and Mali.
  2. Constructing a 50 MW solar power plant in Kiffa, Mauritania, integrated into the interconnection network.
  3. Connecting 100,000 new households to the power grid, significantly impacting 80,000 homes in Mauritania and 20,000 in Mali.

According to a report by ESI Africa, this initiative is a key part of a broader regional roadmap under the Desert to Power Initiative. It represents the first segment of a trans-Sahel spine, designed to connect Mauritania to Chad via Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

The interconnection will facilitate the development of new renewable power plants, enhancing the integration of these sources into interconnected grids. The estimated cost of the project stands at $888 million.

The African Development Fund, the concessional arm of the AfDB, has approved a substantial $302.9 million loan for the project, with $269.6 million allocated for Mauritania and $33.3 million for Mali. Additional funding will come from other partners, including climate funds.

This Mauritania-Mali electricity interconnection project, coupled with the development of solar power plants, marks a strategic investment in solar energy production and aims to achieve universal electricity access in the Sahel region. The AfDB notes that the project will not only provide a reliable, low-carbon electricity supply at affordable prices but also create opportunities for local communities.

Malinne Blomberg, the Bank Group’s Deputy Director General for North Africa, praised the Malian and Mauritanian governments for their support in preparing the project. Adalbert Nshimyumuremyi, head of the Bank’s Country Office in Mali, highlighted the project’s significance, stating, “Permanent access to high-quality electricity at an affordable cost will boost the resilience of populations in the beneficiary areas.”

Scheduled to be implemented in Mali’s Kayes region, the project is set to benefit 500,000 inhabitants, including 20,000 households in 50 areas that will gain grid connectivity.

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