Ivory Coast’s government adopted a set of power sector decrees on Wednesday meant to open up competition and address shortfalls in the electricity supply to Francophone West Africa’s biggest economy, a spokesman said.
For most of its history since independence from France in 1960s, Ivory Coast, the world’s leading cocoa producer, has been spared the power cuts that routinely blight other West African nations.
But economic growth averaging nine percent in the past four years has pushed power capacity to the limit.
President Alassane Ouattara in May pledged to break up the country’s long-standing electricity and water monopolies and introduce competition to reduce prices and spur investment.
“The council of ministers adopted six decrees aimed at liberalising the electricity sector, from production to supply, activities that today are the remit of the Ivorian Electricity Company (CIE),” government spokesman Bruno Kone told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
The six measures are: repealing an earlier electricity decree, setting conditions for independent producers to be able to sell to the grid, dissolving the current regulator and replacing it with a new one, a review of current power prices and laying down guidelines on power marketing and distribution.
Demand for electricity is rising by some 10% a year and the energy minister said last year $20 billion of investment is needed in the industry over the next 15 years.
CIE, majority owned by Africa-focused public utilities manager Eranove Group, has supplied electricity to Ivory Coast since 1990.