Ivory Coast increases power production
Ivory Coast's power capacity is set to increase by one third but with domestic demand slim export customers will be
needed, power engineering firms and distributors said on Wednesday. "They have about 1,200 MW installed but there are
no large industrial users," a West Africa-based manager for Swedish ABB told. "One of the top 10 power consumers is a
hotel." The head of Ivory Coast's privatised power firm Compagnie d'Electricite Ivoirienne (CIE) agreed, and expected
ABB and five other bidders submitted proposals in April to build a $ 300 mm, 450 MW, gas-fired power plant near the capital Abidjan on build-own-transfer terms. The plant, at Azito, would start operating within 12 months with an initial capacity of 300 MW, which could be upgraded.
The supplier will be chosen on the basis of competitive bids based on kWh-charge, with the winner is due to be declared in May. Plant ownership would pass to Ivory Coast after 20 years.
"Industrial companies would give us some baseload and make us less reliant on cocoa and coffee prices," said ABB sub-regional manager Koen Beckers. Ivory Coast, the world's largest cocoa producer, is keen to diversify export earnings away from its rural economy.
Power companies see promising markets in mining and food processing sectors, although domestic consumption is also set to rise, with a plan to supply 7,000 more villages over the next few years. In the 37 years since independence from France only about 1,000 villages have been connected.
Power exports began with Ghana after Ivory Coast achieved energy self-sufficiency in 1995. The Ivorians are discussing interconnecting Mali, which would Ivory Coast connect to 5 other countries, said Beckers. Power deals now link Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso.
Ivory Coast also exports natural gas after using 60 % of offshore output to feed its own thermal power stations, recently converted from other fuels. Ivorian mines and energy Minister Lamine Fadika in April urged Ghana to fuel anew 300 MW power station at Takoradi, due on line this year with new Ivorian offshore gas under development by Shell and a unit of United Meridian Corp.
Ivory Coast's six hydroelectric plants can produce 604 MW and the Vridi thermal plant near Abidjan can produce 300 MW-plus. Another 210 MW came on stream in April from CIPREL plant, a joint-venture between French firms Bouygues and Electricite de France. A planned Regional West African Energy Community would "allow countries with excess... gas or electricity, to fulfil the needs of neighbouring countries," said Fadika at a March conference in Accra on "Meeting Africa's Oil and Gas Needs."