Over the course of four decades addressing major world development challenges, OPIC has focused on different sectors, but infrastructure has been a constant. Power plants, airports and clean water facilities literally lay the foundation for future improved living standards, business activity, and overall economic growth and stability.
At its March 11 Impact Awards, OPIC awarded the Critical Infrastructure Award to ContourGlobal LLC for its work on the 100 megawatt Lomé Thermal Power Plant outside Togo’s capital city.
ContourGlobal built this power plant, designed to run on a variety of fuels, with the support of OPIC financing and political risk insurance. The plant provides a reliable source of electricity to a country that had one of the lowest rates of per capita energy consumption in the world.
“We call it Critical Infrastructure because it really is essential to a country’s overall economic health and well being,” said Caroline Atkinson, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, at the awards presentation. “OPIC has a long been a leader in supporting these major infrastructure projects that require large investments of money and time.”
The completion of this plant in 2010 tripled Togo’s electricity generation capacity. But the construction itself was a major undertaking in one of the world’s least developed countries.
“This project was one of those let’s-do-something-great projects, it was brash and the odds were long,” said Joe Brandt, the CEO of ContourGlobal. “The problems that we had to solve together – between ContourGlobal, the government, and OPIC, were problems like ‘how do you build a power plant in a place that doesn’t have any roads leading to the power plant site?’”
Lack of electricity limits virtually every aspect of life and work, holding back economic development and foreign investment. When more power is brought online, hospitals and clinics can offer a much higher level of care. Individuals and businesses can connect to each other and the rest of the globe with laptops and cellphones. And children can attend electrified schools and read and complete homework after dark.