Côte d’Ivoire has invested heavily in its hydropower industry since gaining independence in 1960, rolling out a raft of facilities between 1959 and 1983, namely the Ayamé 1 (20 MW), Ayamé 2 (30 MW), Kossou (174 MW), Taabo (210 MW), Buyo (165 MW) and Faye (5 MW) hydroelectricity plants.

In recent years the country has placed an increased emphasis on hydropower plants, in part due to its commitment at the 2015 COP21 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28% before 2030.

Planning For New Plants

The 2016-20 National Development Plan (Plan National de Dé veloppement, PND) outlined two more hydroelectric plants – Tayaboui (150 MW) and Gao (150 MW) – in its list of prioritised works, with the projects being carried out through a joint venture between the government and Morocco’s Platinum Power.

The push to expand Côte d’Ivoire’s electricity output has piqued the interest of foreign firms, according to Marc Albérola, the director-general of Eranove Group, a utilities group mainly active in West Africa. “The government has been fostering energy investment through new and traditional partners by improving its international image, creating an attractive and secure environment for investment, and committing to new technologies such as renewable energies,” he told OBG.

New projects are set to boost hydropower generation capacity, which accounted for 19% of the total energy mix in 2017. This set to rise to 23% by 2020 and 26% in 2030, according to the Ministry of Petroleum, Energy and Renewable Energy Development.

New Capabilities

Côte d’Ivoire’s aim of doubling generation capacity and boosting its clean energy credentials took a step forward with the partial opening of the 275-MW Soubré hydroelectric power station, West Africa’s largest hydropower dam. The facility, which became fully operational and was officially inaugurated in early November 2017, will be a turning point for Côte d’Ivoire’s energy strategy.

The first turbine of the Soubré plant was implemented in late June 2017, roughly four years after construction began. Located at Naoua Falls on the Sassandra River, the CFA331bn (€504.6m), four-turbine facility became the country’s largest hydroelectric power station once fully operational in October 2017. The plant was developed by the Power Construction Corporation of China and built by China’s state-owned Sinohydro Corporation. A loan from the Export-Import Bank of China covered 85% of the project’s overall cost, with the government funding the rest. Construction of the facility cost $572m, and the new power plant’s generation capacity of 275 MW will be critical in helping the country meet growing demand for electricity. “With the new Soubré dam, Côte d’Ivoire will reach hydro generation capacity of 4000 MW, which is the goal the government had set for 2020,” Koménan Koffi, an energy specialist at USAID, told OBG.

Harnessing Potential

To further exploit this potential, the government is planning a number of additional hydropower projects over the coming years. Although periods of extreme drought have sometimes led to interruptions in supply, the energy strategy reaffirms hydropower’s position as a cornerstone of sector development in coming years.

One of the projects involves the construction of a 112-MW dam in Gribo Popoli, also on the Sassandra river. Building works began in November 2017 and are expected to last for 40 months. The cost of the project was estimated at CFA183bn (€274.5m).

Furthermore, the authorities are also reviewing the possibility of constructing two additional hydropower facilities at Louga and Boutoubre, which would boost capacity by 280 MW and 156 MW, respectively. However, as of late 2017 the scope and size of these two projects were still being evaluated.