Power generation problems in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana hit industry and neighbors

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  • Côte d’Ivoire faces a 200 MW electricity production deficit
  • Outages irritate retail and business customers
  • Côte d’Ivoire is reducing its electricity exports to its neighbors
  • Situation that should last for several weeks

ABIDJAN, May 11 (Reuters) – A drop in electricity production in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana has left households and businesses angry and cut power to neighboring West African countries , Mali and Burkina Faso, officials said.

A prolonged dry season has reduced water levels at hydroelectric dams in both countries, which in some cases could take months to resolve, hampering productivity, increasing costs and affecting the economies of the largest cocoa farmers. of the world.

In Côte d’Ivoire, which exports electricity to six countries, the national electricity company faces a production deficit of around 200 megawatts (MW), or nearly 10% of its 2,230 MW capacity. Director-General Ahmadou Bakayoko said at a press conference on Friday.

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Officials told Reuters that most of the country’s power companies were generating at reduced capacity.

“Electricity production at the national level has been severely impacted since November 2020 by major unforeseen technical incidents on our electricity production tools,” Energy Minister Thomas Camera said at the same press conference.

Camara said the national electricity company, Compagnie Electricité de la Côte d’Ivoire (CIE), was forced to use reserve water from its reservoirs to run the hydropower plants, but that there was not enough rain to replenish the dams. Delays in the extension of the Azito thermal power plant in the main city of Abidjan due to the coronavirus pandemic have also affected capacity.

The situation could return to normal around July, he said.

“We have significantly reduced exports from 200 MW to 60 MW,” Camara said.

A spokesperson for Mali’s energy ministry told Reuters that electricity imports from Côte d’Ivoire fell 30%, causing repeated blackouts and leading to a production shortfall of 100 MW.

Burkina Faso’s power company blamed its power shortages and blackouts on production constraints in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

A boat sails on the Ebrié lagoon during daily power cuts in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on May 8, 2021. REUTERS / Luc Gnago

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In Ghana, which exports to Burkina Faso, the national electricity company is carrying out gradual shutdowns until May 17.

The electricity regulator on Friday blamed the problem on several issues, including work on transmission lines and lack of rain that depleted reservoirs in the north of the country.

GENERATOR BREAKDOWN

The blackouts in Côte d’Ivoire have given rise to complaints from the cocoa sector, which depends on a regular power supply from its grinders. Two industry sources said most cocoa crushers were operating between 25% and 50% of their capacity.

Power cuts have led companies to rush to source diesel generators which are scarce and expensive. Those who cannot afford it have sent workers home, the sources said.

“This has resulted in additional production costs for us because diesel generators cost three to four times more than conventional electricity,” said Louis Amède, director general of the Federation of Businesses of Côte d’Ivoire.

He said the national utility was rationing electricity to businesses, providing them only 12 hours out of 48.

In the popular district of Abidjan in Yopougon, several small businesses, including sewing workshops, hairdressing salons and bakeries, have not been able to operate.

Luc Paré, a young fashion designer, was lying on a bench in his shop, waiting for the power to return to be able to use his sewing machine.

“We can’t work. The Eid party is approaching. I have a lot of orders and I don’t know what to say to the customers who are very demanding.”

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Additional reporting by Christian Akorlie in Accra, Thiam Ndiaga in Ouagadougou and Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako; Written by Bate Felix; Editing by Edward McAllister and David Clarke

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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