World’s leading producer of cocoa, Ivory Coast has started producing power from a 275 megawatt (MW) hydroelectric plant.
The new plant which started operation yesterday, Thursday 2 November, 2017 will boost the country’s electricity output by more than 10 percent after a decade-long political crisis affected its power supply and economic fortunes.
The project which was constructed at a cost of $500 million, is located in the southwestern city of Soubre. The $500 million was secured as a low-interest loan from China’s Export-Import Bank and built by China’s state-owned hydropower engineering firm Sinohydro Corp.
“The Soubre dam will allow Ivory Coast to produce abundant and inexpensive electricity,” President Alassane Ouattara said during the inauguration ceremony.
“We are going to continue constructing other hydroelectric plants,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sinohydro also started construction on Thursday of another 112 MW hydro plant near Soubre, which is expected to be completed within three years. The government will fund half of the $306 million cost, with the rest coming from bilateral donors.
Unlike many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Ivory Coast has a reliable power supply. It exports electricity to neighbours Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and Mali, and plans to extend its grid to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone this year.
But with domestic consumption rising by about 10 percent a year, the government is under pressure to boost supply at home and aims to increase output to 4,000MW by 2020, from the current 2,275 MW.