Commerzbank and Investec are providing a €178mn loan, backed by export credit agencies (ECAs), to finance a water infrastructure project in Côte d’Ivoire.

The loan, made to the Ivorian finance ministry, will fund the development of 111 sites and supply infrastructure to facilitate the availability of safe drinking water in rural areas where it has previously been patchy or non-existent.

Commerzbank is mandated lead arranger on the loan, which was signed on March 13 and announced this week, with Investec acting as co-arranger.

Commerzbank’s €152mn portion of the loan is being covered by Swiss Export Risk Insurance, Switzerland’s ECA, and re-insured by Dutch ECA Atradius Dutch State Business. Investec is lending the remainder of the facility.

Bluebird Finance & Projects was the lead financial arranger for the contractor, Israel’s Rimon Group, which is designing and installing the infrastructure.

The project is part of Côte d’Ivoire’s Water for All project, in which the government is making investments to improve potable water availability for the country’s estimated 27 million residents.

Last year Bluebird also advised another Israeli contractor on a €220mn deal to finance clean water systems in the country, provided by KfW Ipex-Bank and the Swedish Export Credit Corporation. That transaction was insured by Sweden’s ECA and similarly re-insured by Atradius Dutch State Business.

The proponents of the latest Water for All deal say it will serve around 1.3 million people in remote parts of the country – a number slated to rise to 2.15 million by 2035 – including by saving people from having to transport water by foot and bring associated health and economic benefits.

Once implemented, the project “will reduce diseases relating to contaminated drinking water, improve hygiene standards and prolong life expectancy, generate labour opportunities during construction, and encourage associated commercial and social activities during operation”, says Brian Irvine, Investec’s head of structured debt and trade finance.

Bluebird’s CEO and partner Ram Shalita says: “This project is the essence of export finance and sustainable practices, and will improve the lives of millions of people in the long run.”