Photo: From L to R: Front Row: Daniel Ellsberg, David Krieger, Noam Chomsky. Second Row: Paul K. Chappell, Rick Wayman, Elaine Scarry, Steven Starr, Richard Falk, Jackie Cabasso, Jennifer Simons, Peter Kuznick, Judith Lipton, Kimiaki Kawai. Third Row: Robert Laney, Mark Hamilton, Daniel Smith, John Mecklin, Hans Kristensen, Rich Appelbaum. (photo by Rick Carter) - Photo: 2021

Declining Power Supply Cripples Ivory Coast and Ghana Cocoa Economies

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) — A prolonged dry season is being blamed for inadequate power supplies to West African countries from Ivory Coast to Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso, threatening businesses and the world’s largest cocoa economies.

Consumers, unions and business leaders in Ivory Coast are sounding the alarm about waves of blackouts that are hitting major cities, including the economic capital Abidjan and its five million residents.

In Ivory Coast, which exports power to six countries, the national power company faces a generation deficit of about 200 megawatts (MW), or nearly 10% of its 2,230 MW capacity, director-general Ahmadou Bakayoko told a news conference on May 14.

Officials told Reuters that most power companies in the country were producing at reduced capacity.

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

The energy ministry blamed low water levels at hydro-electric dams, a problem that some have attributed to climate change, and lack of supplies for Ivory Coast’s two gas-fired power plants.

Breakdowns at Abidjan’s Azito plant, which generates more than a third of the country’s power, are also being blamed.

“If it’s not the water supply that breaks down, it’s the electricity!” one resident of Ivory Coast’s capital Yamoussoukro complained to a reporter.

Over the last decade, Ivory Coast has received millions of dollars from lending institutions to maintain its privately run energy plant in line with World Bank prescriptions to sell-off of state-run industries – a concept endorsed by President Alassane Ouattara.

While the World Bank praises Ivory Coast for supplying electrical power to its citizens, a USAID survey showed that 1.8 million households had no electricity, observing: “While the country’s electricity grid is relatively expansive and access rates are high, the actual share of household connection is low—largely due to the upfront cost of connection.”

The trade union confederation Humanisme, which says it represents 187 unions in 23 industrial sectors, also called upon the government to resolve the problem citing the reach of the fallout.

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

Cote d’Ivoire Energy (CIE), which was privatized in 1990, is owned by a French-African group called Eranove. It sparked a wave of public anger in 2016 when it hiked prices. [IDN-InDepthNews – 18 May 2021]

Photo: The World Bank praised reported about “the secret to Côte d’Ivoire’s electric success” focusing on the Azito Thermal Power Plant, built in 1998. © Erick Kaglan, World Bank.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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