Interview : Marc Alberola

To what degree are private sector stakeholders involved in the implementation of the administration’s Energy Master Plan?

MARC ALBEROLA: Since the creation of Compagnie Ivoirienne de Production d’Electricité (CIPREL) in 1994, the country’s first independent electricity producer, the private sector has been developing and exploiting power generation plants under build-own-operate contracts. Indeed, the state collaborates with several private players, with the goal of bolstering Côte d’Ivoire’s electricity generation capacities.

Under the framework of the Energy Master Plan, Eranove is developing two projects: a concession was signed in December 2018 for Atinkou, a combined-cycle thermal power station with a capacity of 390 MW; and studies are under way for a hydroelectric project on the Cavally River.

These projects build upon an existing fleet of eight units, including six hydroelectric dams (604 MW); one thermal power station (100 MW) operated by Companie Ivoirienne d’Electricité (CIE); and one thermal power station run by CIPREL (556 MW).

What measures are being taken by players from the energy sector to improve the inclusion of isolated populations in the power grid?

ALBEROLA: Africa’s population of 1.2bn is projected to double by 2050; however, around 588m people on the continent do not currently have access to electricity. In order to improve the availability of power in Côte d’Ivoire the government initiated a programme aimed at the electrification of villages with more than 500 inhabitants.

This initiative is being supplemented by innovative access projects. For example, CIE is partnering with the state in its Electricity For All programme, which combines technical innovation, financial engineering and a drive to increase efficiency. The programme has already helped 400,000 low-income families gain access to electricity in exchange for contributions starting from CFA1000 (€1.50).

What kinds of programmes have been initiated to improve the economy’s human capital?

ALBEROLA: Companies are struggling to recruit higher education graduates and the technically skilled workers they need. Developing technical training in Africa is one possible solution. The Bingerville-based Centre des Métiers Electriques (CME), on the outskirts of Abidjan, is among the institutes addressing this need. The industrial training centre specialises in a number of fields including electricity, automation and energy efficiency. In May 2018 the CME signed a memorandum of understanding with the French National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts regarding its bachelors programme in sustainable development, in order to provide the first bachelor’s degree accredited by France in West Africa.

How does the broader economy’s digital transition translate to the power sector?

ALBEROLA: The pace of investment in smart grids, a core component of digitalisation in the sector that started several years ago, will increase. Digitalisation in the power sector is also happening at the level of customer relations. In this vein, CIE has proposed a mobile payment system for electricity bills, along with an e-agency. They have also increased access to information and services via digital channels and social networks. Furthermore, digitalisation is driving technical performance improvements in the field of power generation. CIPREL has begun a process that includes the digitalisation of inventory management and technical documentation. A computerised management system designed to aid predictive maintenance has also been launched. Together, these actions are part of the digitalisation of the entire process of electricity generation.