Africa

Congo agrees $100 mln solar-hybrid power deal for three cities

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KINSHASA, June 3 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday signed a $100 million solar-hybrid power deal with a consortium led by Gridworks, to provide electricity to half a million people across three cities that have no grid connection.

Solar-hybrid systems combine solar power with another electricity generating energy source. For this 22-year concession, the back up power source will be diesel, Gridworks said.

Less than 10% of Congo's roughly 90 million people have reliable access to electricity.

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The consortium is led by Gridworks, which is owned and financed by the British development finance institution CDC Group, and includes French utility company Eranove and Spanish power developer AEE Power.

"By building electricity infrastructure we support local entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and create jobs, we help families get better education and healthcare, and we empower women," Gridworks' Chief Executive Simon Hodson said in a statement.

"Renewable energy is a priority sector for the Government of Democratic Republic of Congo for growth, revenue generation and employment," said Mwenze Mukaleng, minister of hydraulic resources and electricity.

The companies that provide the electricity will be called Moyi Power, the word for "sun" in Lingala, the main language spoken in the three northern cities of Gemena, Bumba and Isiro.

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Reporting by Hereward Holland Editing by Mark Potter

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