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Exim Bank China Lends Ivory Coast $500 Million for Hydro

The Export-Import Bank of China will lend Ivory Coast $500 million for a hydroelectric dam built by Sinohydro Corp., the biggest amount given by the lender to the West African nation in 30 years, Ambassador Guoqing Zhang said in a statement.

Works started on Jan. 2 on the 275-megawatt plant at Soubre, in the southwest, and will continue for more than four years, Oil and Energy Minister Adama Toungara said in a separate statement. Both were handed to reporters in Abidjan, the commercial capital, today.

The plant will allow the country to “face the nation’s growing consumption” of electricity, Toungara said. Operations will start by late 2017 or early 2018 and the facility will be the biggest hydropower producer in Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast plans to invest $4 billion over the next six years in energy infrastructure to boost power output by 80 percent, Toungara said in November. The country currently produces 70 percent of electricity demand through natural-gas fueled thermal plants, he said today.

After contracting 4.7 percent in 2011, Ivory Coast’s economy grew more than 8.5 percent in 2012, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said in Abidjan on Jan 7. The government is targeting 9 percent growth this year and 10 percent in 2014.

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