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Adam Boehler, CEO of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), has announced the first disbursement of a US$40mn loan to Tetra4 Proprietary Ltd to support the development of critical gas infrastructure and advance energy security in South Africa

The announcement was made at the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“One of the most powerful ways we can create opportunity in emerging markets is by developing infrastructure that lays a strong foundation for trade and investment,” said Boehler. “By helping South Africa develop its national resources, this project will support sustainable economic growth and foster regional stability.”

With the agency’s support, Tetra4 will launch the first phase of the development and commercialisation of a natural gas and helium field in South Africa. The loan will also support the construction and operation of a natural gas gathering pipeline as well as a micro-scale liquefied natural gas and helium liquefaction plant.

The project is set to be the first and only onshore natural gas liquefaction facility in South Africa. As Tetra4’s gas reserves are a non-depleting and renewing resource, the facility will both improve the reliability and the supply of energy. Further, by offering a source that is estimated to be 25 per cent cheaper than current alternatives, the project will reduce reliance on imported diesel fuels and diversify the country’s energy mix.

Additionally, the project will introduce modern technology that is entirely new to South Africa and help address the global shortage of helium, which has critical applications in medicine, telecommunications, and other highly developmental sectors. Helium is also one of 35 mineral commodities identified by the US Department of the Interior as critical to the economic and national security of the US Over the lifespan of the project, the Tetra4 facility is expected to increase the global supply of helium by eight per cent.

Boehler is attending the Africa Investment Forum during a trip to Sub-Saharan Africa to highlight US commitment to the region, explore private sector investment opportunities, and strengthen relationships with key regional partners in support of mutual development goals. Boehler will also travel to Ethiopia before returning to Washington.

The visit marks Boehler’s first official travel to Africa as CEO of DFC, a new US Government agency that modernises the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Equipped with a more than doubled investment cap of US$60bn and new financial tools, DFC has more resources to mobilise private sector capital to address development challenges and advance US foreign policy in priority regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.