Egypt signs $653 mln Aswan solar-power deal with IFC
Ahram Online, , Sunday 29 Oct 2017
The 13 new solar-power plants will be located in the Aswan area, linking with 19 other plants to make up the Benban Solar Park

Egypt signed agreements on Sunday for the construction of 13 solar-power plants in the Aswan area, financed by the International Financial Corporation (IFC), which is a member of the World Bank Group, the Ministry of Investment said in a statement.

The agreements were signed by Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, and IFC Vice President Dimitris Tsitsiragos.

The 13 solar power plants, which are expected to generate 590 megawatts, will cost $823 million in total, with the IFC providing $653 million, the statement read. The IFC will provide its funding package in cooperation with around nine international banks.

The new deal represents the largest private-sector financing package for a solar photovoltaic facility in the Middle East and North Africa, Reuters reported on Sunday.

The 13 planned solar plants will be linked to 19 other plants to make up the Benban Solar Park.

Nasr said the new project is expected to be beneficial to more than 350,000 people, providing around 6,000 job opportunities in the construction process, the statement said.

"This creates an ecosystem of investors for Egypt for this program and broadens the capital base for future infrastructure spending,” Erick Becker, IFC's manager of infrastructure and natural resources in the Middle East and North Africa, told Reuters in an interview.

The World Bank has been working with the Egyptian government to help reform the electricity sector. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, also part of the World Bank Group, will provide $210 million in political-risk insurance to 12 projects within Benban, according to Reuters.

Shaker said that this project is part of a strategic long-term plan that aims to raise the share of renewable energy to 42 percent by 2035, the statement added.

In 2014, Egypt announced plans to tackle energy shortages by developing the renewable-energy sector, a field that has attracted foreign investment, Reuters added.

* The total cost of the 13 solar projects is $823 million, not $823 billion, as stated in a previous version of this report.