The Azito project is AKFED's first investment in the power sector. It was followed by various other energy projects in East and West Africa, as well as in Central Asia. The Azito power facility is the largest private sector power plant in sub-Saharan Africa, developed and operated by the Swiss/Swedish ABB, the French Electricité de France, and AKFED's venture capital arm in West Africa, Industrial Promotion Services. Azito is the largest gas-fired power station in West Africa. The 288 MegaWatt project, developed on a build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) basis, commenced electricity production in March 1999 and makes use of Côte d'Ivoire's supplies of natural gas.
The financing of this US$225 million private infrastructure project was provided by the shareholders and by way of loans from international and bilateral development agencies including International Finance Corporation (IFC), Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), African Development Bank (ADB), Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), and the German investment and development company (DEG) and commercial banks. The financing benefited from a Partial Risk Guarantee issued by the International Development Association (IDA) the soft-loan arm of The World Bank, the first guarantee of its kind. Azito produces more than 30% of the Côte d'Ivoire's electricity generation and its production is partly exported to neighbouring countries. The Azito project is a good example of the relevance of private sector support in economic development, responding to the growing demand in the developing world for improved and reliable infrastructure services.
Azito Phase 3 project
The existing Azito plant has now operated for fifteen years and has an excellent track-record, successfully meeting all of its requirements toward its financiers and toward the state under the Concession Agreement. The original Concession Agreement included the possibility to expand the existing plant from a simple-cycle to a combined-cycle plant. In 2011, given the demand for power in Côte d'Ivoire, the shareholders decided to invest in this important expansion. The expanded plant will make available approximately 426 Megawatts of power, almost 50% more than the existing plant, using no additional gas to what is needed for the existing plant.
This is achieved by adding a condensing steam turbine, which is powered by the exhaust heat of the existing turbines. This makes the Phase III project an especially important project in Côte d'Ivoire, since it significantly improves the efficiency of the country's use of its gas resources to produce much-needed additional power.
The financing of this US$428 million expansion project was provided by the shareholders and by way of loans from international and bilateral development agencies including International Finance Corporation (IFC), European development finance institutions (PROPARCO, BIO, DEG etc.) and African banks (AfDB and BOAD). The development of a combined cycle power plant at Azito will serve as a model for the development and financing of similar power projects in other parts of Côte d’Ivoire, and developing countries elsewhere. The conversion was completed in 2015.