OPIC in Africa
OPIC has a long history of supporting power projects in Sub-Saharan Africa including:
Hell’s Gate National Park in Kenya, named for its hot springs and volcanoes, is also the site of a geothermal power plant. OPIC has provided $310 million in financing to Ormat Technologies Inc. to support an expansion that will double operating capacity and add clean energy to the country’s electricity grid.
The geothermal plant, which operates in a region abundant with wildlife, generates power using a proprietary technology that re-injects cooled water back into the reservoir to minimize the impact on the environment. The overall design of the plant was conceived with its national park setting in mind. As the photo shows, the pipeline that transports pressurized stream is elevated high above the ground in places, so that it does not disrupt giraffe migration.
In Togo, one of the world’s least developed countries, ContourGlobal LLC used OPIC financing and political risk insurance to build a 100 megawatt power plant outside the capital city of Lomé. Built in a region that initially lacked roads and bridges strong enough to support the weight of the equipment used in construction, the project is emblematic of both the challenges of working in underdeveloped regions and how a single power plan can be transformative. In addition to providing a reliable source of power to a country that had suffered regular rolling blackouts, the plant has provided the foundation for sustained economic activity and growth.
In June of 2014, OPIC approved financing for the first large-scale Power Africa project, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Northern Kenya, which will be the single largest wind power project in Africa and is projected to boost the country’s installed energy capacity by 20 percent.