Ivory Coast looks to more than double capacity by 2020

The Ivory Coast is keen to boost its power generation capacity from its current standing of 1800 MW to 4000 MW by 2020.

The African nation is strategizing towards that goal through further stimulating private investment in the development of its gas-fired power and hydroelectric power generation potential.

Azito Energie, an IPP, has just expanded the capacity of its gas-fired plant to almost 430 MW by converting it to a combined cycle plant, and Ciprel’s gas-fired plant should be at 455 MW by the end of the year. In hydroelectric, the $400m, 270MW Soubr√© plant is under construction and should be ready after 2017.
Ciprel's gas-fired plant
The dam project, and others like it, are needed to rebalance generation away from costlier thermal power, which represents about 70 per cent of capacity, back towards cheaper hydro generation.

The FT reports that much of the foreign investment required will come through the Compagnie Ivoirienne d’Electricit√© (CIE), the power supplier and distributor at the heart of the sector. Eranove, the company that now owns a majority stake in CIE, also owns Ciprel, one of the country’s independent power producers (IPPs).

The country has developed and maintained a regulatory framework for the power sector that has encouraged investor confidence. Investment is facilitated by a defined set of rules for how CIE has to pay the independent power generators. This “waterfall” structure gives IPPs a relatively high place in the payments queue.

“One of the advantages here is the tradition of private investment in the electricity sector,” says Amadou Ba, managing director of Endeavor Energy, which plans to build a 375MW power plant. “Even in the middle of the [2002-10 political] crisis the power continued to flow.”

Other concerns remain such as whether Ivory Coast can develop sufficient natural gas to supply its thermal power stations, especially when global oil and gas prices are unlikely to stimulate exploration activity.

There is also concern over whether electricity prices have been high enough to encourage continued investment. The energy ministry has approved higher tariffs, saying that it would keep costs flat for poorer domestic users while raising prices up to 10 per cent for the largest industrial users.

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