Power outages in Côte d’Ivoire spark anger, concern among public, business people

Electricity pylons at sunset

A number of major cities in Côte d’Ivoire have been hit by a wave of power outages in the past one week sparking anger and concern among the public, unions and business people.

The Ministry of Energy has blamed the phenomenon on low water levels at hydro-electric dams and inadequate supplies for the country’s two gas-powered power plants.

FILE PHOTO: Consumers, unions and business leaders in Côte d’Ivoire are sounding the alarm about waves of blackouts that are hitting major cities, including the economic capital Abidjan and its residents. (Getty Images)

There have also been reports of breakdowns at Azito plant which is located in the economic capital Abidjan and generates more than a third of the country’s power.

Three-quarters of energy supply in Côte d’Ivoire is produced by two gas-powered plants, at Ciprel and Azito, with the remaining one-quarter coming from hydroelectric dams.

Jean-Baptiste Koffi, president of the Côte d’Ivoire Consumers’ Confederation (COC-CI) said the “unexpected and surprising interruptions” were destructive.

“Electricity is failing more and more often, at work and in the homes,” he said.

Koffi added that the situation was beyond the CIE, Côte d’Ivoire’s monopoly electricity supplier, even as he demanded that the government intervene.

Meanwhile, the country’s confederation of big businesses, the CGECI, raised the problem in a letter to Prime Minister Patrick Achi.

The group’s president, Jean-Marie Ackah, said the country was heading for a 200 megawatt deficit in power between April and August this year.

Ackah claimed the CIE wants to compensate for the deficit by imposing rolling outages on 145 major industrial companies over five months, “an extremely serious situation that will have consequences on the national economy,” he warned.

The secretary-general of Humanisme, the trade union confederation, Mamadou Soro, also appealed to the government to step in due to the effects of the interruptions.

“These cuts deeply affect the informal labour sector, which makes up more than 70 percent of the national economy,” Soro said.

Côte d’Ivoire is a leader in energy production in West Africa and even exported 11 percent of its 2,200 megawatt production in 2019 to six neighbouring countries, official data shows.

The country aims to nearly double its power supply to 4,000 megawatts by the end of 2030, of which 42 percent would be generated from renewables.