Despite underinvestment due to the country’s civil unrest, Côte d’Ivoire’s power infrastructure is well developed by regional standards and is of strategic importance to several nearby countries. The country’s first cross-border connection was established in 1994 with its eastern neighbour Ghana. While exchanges between the two nations have been modest since, it marked the start of regional exchanges with other countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo and Benin.
Regional integration has been further encouraged under ECOWAS’s West African Power Pool (WAPP), which envisages full integration of physical networks and national electricity markets by 2020. Due to its energy infrastructure, low-priced power and its central location in West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire plays a prominent role in the realisation of this objective. In fact, it is the only connecting country between the WAPP’s western and eastern sub-regions.
This has led to export opportunities, which reached a total of 820 GWh in 2013, equivalent to CFA13.79bn (€20.68m), according to figures from the country’s utility company, Compagnie Ivoirienne d’Electricité (CIE), which is majority controlled by Paris-based holding company Finagestion. In 2013 volumes grew by 27% compared to 2012, helped by the start of operations of the Côte d’Ivoire-Mali connection in October 2012, which was developed under the WAPP framework. The link constitutes a 225-KW, high-voltage power line between the cities of Ferkessedougou and Laboa. According to the agreement, Côte d’Ivoire provides 30 MW at peak hours of demand and 100 MW during off-peak periods. Mali is Côte d’Ivoire’s second-biggest export market for power exports with a share of 26.5%, while Burkina Faso leads the way at 58.8%. Benin and Ghana account for 12.1% and 2.7%, respectively.
Despite its recent growth, power exports have fallen compared to the previous decade. In 2002 exports reached 1600 GWh, double the figure for 2013. However, with its economic recovery and the roll-out of WAPP, Côte d’Ivoire has its eyes set on regaining some of this regional export market share. As such, exports are set to rise to 1000 GWh in 2014 and to 2000 GWh by 2017, according to Stephan Dauriac, CIE’s deputy director for finance and logistics.
The role of WAPP in facilitating regional electricity exports is key in helping address Côte d’Ivoire’s domestic demand as well, particularly in areas where current transmission and distribution infrastructure might be limited. In September 2013 Ghana agreed to provide regular power supplies to communities in the northern and eastern parts of Côte d’Ivoire where, due to security concerns, domestic investments in infrastructure have been limited in the past. Under the agreement, Ghana’s Northern Electricity Distribution Company will provide electricity from Chache-Vonokoro in Ghana’s Northern Region to Bouna in Côte d’Ivoire.
Another main item on the regional integration agenda is the establishment of the Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea (CLSG) interconnection. Supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), which will cover up to 40% of the project cost, the project involves the construction of about 1400 km of high voltage (225 KV) line, 11 new sub-stations and two regional control centres. According to the AfDB, the project will increase the regional average rate of access to electricity from 28% to 33% and benefit close to 24m inhabitants through low-priced power supplies. An interconnected grid is also expected to help solidify plans for a slate of generation projects, in particular hydroelectric facilities in Sierra Leone and Guinea, which have immense potential for hydro-electric power that remains unexploited. Operation of the line will require an Ivorian contribution of 83 MW. At the start of the year, Adama Toungara, the minister of petroleum and energy, reaffirmed his country’s readiness to deliver its share, despite growing needs at home. He said in January 2014 that additional capacities at the Azito and Ciprel facilities “will increase our installed capacity to 1882 MW, an increase of nearly 24% by 2016”, allowing for ample space to support CLSG.
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