Construction of a 450-MW hydroelectric power plant in Guinea has received a major boost after the Export-Import Bank of China approved $1.3 billion in project financing. China International Water and Electric (CWE) is constructing the plant under a contract awarded in 2015.

The bank will provide funding for the Souapiti hydropower plant, the second such project in Guinea after the 240-MW Kaleta project, built six kilometers downstream on the Konkoure River, came online in 2015 after 48 months of construction by CWE. However, neither CWE nor the bank could immediately divulge details on the funds disbursement and repayment schedule.

The $1.38-billion Souapiti hydro project will have a pool level of 210 m, a dam crest elevation of 215.5 m and a dam axis length of 1148 m, according to a project brief by CWE. The dam, made of roller-compacted concrete, will have a maximum height of 116.5 m. The power plant, located 135 km from the capital, Conakry, will have an average annual output of 1.9 billion kWh when completed in 2020. CWE did not respond to a request for details on the suppliers of the technology and equipment to be installed at the power plant.

Guinea's Ministry of Energy and Water Resources awarded the public-private partnership contract to CWE at the end of 2015. However, political instability in the West African country delayed plans to conclude the financing arrangements with the Chinese. Guinea's estimated hydro power potential is 6,000 MW.

"Upon completion, optimal flow control and regulation at upstream and downstream stations will be realized, not only effectively guaranteeing output of the Kaleta project, but also meeting electricity demands in Guinea and neighboring countries, which will further improve the economy and livelihood," said CWE in its project brief.

When on line, the Souapiti power plant will create a surplus of electricity that could be exported to Mali, Senegal, Liberia, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau. The majority of these countries participate in the West African Power Pool, which promotes electricity trade among members.