American Capital Energy & Infrastructure (ACEI) has secured a $50m financing commitment from Overseas Private Investment (OPIC), the US Government’s development finance institution, to support construction of the Azura-Edo power plant project near Benin City in Edo State, Nigeria.

Scheduled to commence construction in 2014, the 459MW Azura-Edo power project is an open cycle gas turbine power station, and represents the first phase of a potential 1,000MW power plant facility.

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Up to $130m will be invested by ACEI’s affiliate in Azura Power, which is responsible for developing the Azura-Edo power project, to fund both the first and second phases of the Azura-Edo power project, and for the future acquisitions and greenfield projects in Nigeria.

The Azura-Edo power project is the first new project-financed independent power producer in Nigeria in more than a decade.

ACEI CEO and co-founder Paul Hanrahan said: "It is relationships with OPIC and other development institutions that underpin ACEI’s strategy to create and grow power companies in high-growth markets such as Africa, Asia and Latin America."

"The Azura-Edo power project’s suite of contracts are template-setting for the industry and will unlock a growth in the power sector."

ACEI Africa Investments director Lisa Pinsley said: "OPIC’s approval is another achievement for the Azura team, who, in conjunction with their Nigerian Government counterparties, have worked tirelessly on the first greenfield independent power producer under President Goodluck Jonathan’s power sector reform programme.

"The Azura-Edo power project’s suite of contracts are template-setting for the industry and will unlock a growth in the power sector above and beyond Azura’s first 459MW."

The international team of debt and equity investors for the project also include African and European infrastructure funds, development and commercial banks and the Edo State Government.

ACEI is a partner of the US Government initiative, Power Africa, which aims to support economic growth and development in Africa by increasing clean and reliable access to electrical power.