African Development Bank lends $116.7 mn to Mauritius Central Electricity Board
The Saint Louis Power Plant Redevelopment Project aims to increase the firm generating capacity of the CEB to maintain reliable supply, reduce environmental impacts and stabilize electricity supply. (Image: BWSC)
Mauritius’ Central Electricity Board (CEB), a state-owned power utility, has been granted a $116.7 million (around Rs 3.5 billion) loan by the African Development Bank (AfDB) on June 25, 2014 for redeveloping the Saint Louis Power Plant and ensuring improved electricity supply to the Indian Ocean island nation.
Estimated to cost $129.7 million (or approximately Rs 3.97 billion), the Saint Louis Power Plant Redevelopment Project aims to increase the firm generating capacity of the CEB to maintain reliable supply, reduce environmental impacts and stabilize electricity supply.
According to the AfDB, the electricity produced by the project installations will serve all corners of the main island, which is about 1,200 miles southeast of mainland Africa and where about 97 percent of Mauritius’ 1.29 million residents live.
“As a result of the project demand, growth could be met, guaranteeing the provision of adequate power supply to all sectors of the economy on the main island,” said Alex Rugamba, director of the AfDB’s energy, environment and climate change department.
“Populations in residential areas and workers in the industrial zone adjacent to the power station will benefit from reduced levels of gaseous emissions and noises,” he added.
By adding 60-megawatts capacity at the plant, based about three miles from the Port Louis, this project is anticipated to solve the issue of the CEB’s inability to meet peak demand based on existing capacity for the second half of 2015.
A technical overview of the project mentions that it will provide four medium-speed, four-stroke, heavy fuel oil-driven generators with a capacity of 15 megawatts each; a power station building; two 1,000-cubic-meter tanks for storage of heavy fuel oil and one 132-kilovolt substation to connect the power plant to CEB’s existing electricity grid.
According to a study commissioned in 2012, it was found that the CEB produced around 40% of power requirements in Mauritius from its four thermal power stations and nine hydroelectric plants. The thermal power stations are St Louis, Fort Victoria, Fort George and Nikolay, all located in the environs of Port Louis. The nine hydroelectric plants are located at Champagne, Ferney, Tamarind, Le Val, Cecile, Reduit, Magenta, La Ferme and La Nicoliere.
The CEB was originally the sole electricity generator on Mauritius but, owing to a strategic policy reform, the CEB now purchases power generated from Independent Power Producers (IPP). The remaining 60% of power requirements in Mauritius are produced by IPPs.
The main sectors of the Mauritian economy – tourism, textiles and financial services – are all dependent on the availability of a secure and reliable supply of electricity.
The government is currently finalizing a ten-year Economic and Social Transformation Plan (ESTP). For its implementation, the government has prepared the 2014 – 2018 Public Sector Investment Program (PSIP), which includes the proposed project.
The government will be relying on the AfDB as a lead financier in closing any gap in the financing of the PSIP.
This project will be the AfDB’s first major intervention in Mauritius’ energy sector. The AfDB has wide experience in similar types of projects in many African countries.
According to the AfDB, the additional knowledge gained under the project will be useful as the Bank designs projects in its island member states and in areas of continental Africa that are far away from transmission grids.
This loan is the second issued this week by the bank after a $142 million loan to build a South African solar plant, showing AfDB’s focus on improving access to basic utilities across the African continent, while promoting sustainable development.