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Mali's first independent power project to start up next week

Wed 24th October, 2018 5:25pm
CAPE TOWN, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Mali's first independent power
project - a 122 million euro  ($139.06 million), 90-megawatt
diesel plant - will go online next week in the country's
gold-rich southwest, a board member of the operator said on
Wednesday.
    The new plant could spur more of the foreign investment Mali
has struggled to attract since Islamist militants seized the
desert north in 2012.
    French forces intervened the following year to wrest back
control, but fighters with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State
have since regrouped.
    Mali currently has around 350 MW of installed power
production capacity through its state utility company, primarily
from hydroelectric projects that have been hit by irregular
rainfall in recent years. 
    Only around 30 percent of Malians have access to
electricity.
    "We've just yesterday finished the final testing and we're
going in operation on the 31st of October," Albatros Energy
board member Ruth Beckers told Reuters on the sidelines of a
conference in Cape Town, South Africa.
    Albatros holds a 20-year concession to operate the plant and
sell its output to state-owned power utility Energie du Mali. 
    African Infrastructure Investment Managers, a division of
Old Mutual  OMUJ.J , holds a 44 percent stake in Albatros, and
West Africa-focused Redox Power Solutions owns 31 percent.
    Danish engineering firm Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian
Contractor and Danish development investment fund IFU hold
smaller stakes. 
    With Albatros providing reliable, round-the-clock power for
the grid, Beckers said Mali was now also attracting investments
in solar power. 
    "When you have one successful project, it's like an
avalanche effect and you create new investments, hopefully not
only power but in other areas," she said. 
    The new power plant is located near the town of Kayes, not
far from the border with Senegal. 
    The area has remained largely unaffected by the unrest
farther north and is home to gold mines operated by Canadian
firms Iamgold Corp  IMG.TO  and B2Gold  BTO.TO  as well as
Johannesburg-listed AngloGold Ashanti  ANGJ.J . 
    Mali is Africa's third biggest producer of gold after South
Africa and Ghana. 

($1 = 0.8773 euros)

 (Reporting by Joe Bavier. Editing by Jane Merriman)
 ((joe.bavier@thomsonreuters.com; +27 664877766; Reuters
Messaging: joe.bavier.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))
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