Burkina Faso to open energy sector

The government of Burkina Faso is to open the country`s energy sector to private operators. A bill was due to be submitted to parliament last month providing for the liberalization of production and distribution of electricity.

The move will end a 22-year monopoly held by the national power company, Sonabel, which has been performing poorly. Privatization of the company would be a popular move with consumers.

But the government says that it will not privatize Sonabel. It would instead allow private operators to operate in areas where there is no Sonabel network. A regulatory body would also be created. An average of only seven per cent of the population has access to electricity.

Sonabel is struggling to manage demand as well as its finances. The company is owed CFAFr10bn ($17m) in total. Government departments owe Sonabel around CFAFr1.5bn, while private firms account for another CFAFr1bn.