World Bank unit to inject up to $100m in Saudi's ACWA Power

Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of ACWA Power.

Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of ACWA Power.

International Finance Corp (IFC), a unit of the World Bank, will invest up to $100 million in Saudi Arabia-based water and power project developer ACWA Power to boost its funding for renewable energy schemes, the IFC said on Monday.

The investment will focus on expanding the amount of power generated in the Middle East and North Africathrough green methods, as energy demands in the region increase rapidly.

Saudi Arabia must spend around 800 billion riyals ($213 billion) on its power and water sectors in the next decade to cope with soaring demand growth of around 8 percent annually, the deputy electricity minister said in May, while Egypt is suffering blackouts due to a dilapidated grid and a lack of spare capacity.

The potential of renewables, most notably solar power, has long been talked about in the region because of its sunny weather, and ACWA already has projects on which it is working with the IFC, including a solar power plant in Morocco.

The IFC, which promotes private sector investment in emerging economies, is joining Sanabil al-Saudia and the Public Pension Agency in taking an equity stake in ACWA; in January 2013, the pair of Saudi state-owned funds bought a 19.4 percent stake for an undisclosed amount.

ACWA aims to complete a stock market flotation in the kingdom by early 2015, having chosen the investment banking arm of Banque Saudi Fransi to arrange the listing, an executive confirmed in May.

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