Renewable energies in Côte d’Ivoire: Two tools to boost the sector

Awareness of the paradox: the exclusive prerequisite…

Of all the obstacles that hinder the development of the “renewable energy” sector in Côte d’Ivoire, the political obstacle is inevitably the most decisive.

Because it normally has the task of thinking about development, the government should initiate an energy policy that takes into account both the potential and the needs of the population. Awareness of the paradox between the current state of affairs (a population without electricity that is too large, as well as increasingly recurrent load shedding problems) and natural resources (the permanence of abundant and free sunshine) is the prerequisite for revitalising the sector.

An appropriate energy policy

The Ministry of Mines and Energy is certainly already equipped with a relevant energy policy… However, it must now integrate new challenges, in particular the conciliation of socio-economic development and the commitment of the Kyoto Protocol (concluded in 1997, and the fight against global warming by the reduction of Greenhouse Gases) on the one hand, and the development of renewable energies on the other hand. For its part, the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Forests could play a more important role that goes beyond the purely consultative functions of the CNDD (National Commission for Sustainable Development) or the AN-MDP (National Authority for the Clean Development Mechanism).

Indeed, the involvement of renewable energies in the fight against global warming makes the ministry in charge of the environment a key player in the popularisation of alternative energies, in the same way as the ministry in charge of energy.

Promoting human resources

IREN, the Ivory Coast’s Institute for Research into New Energies, needs a little more attention if it is to achieve the objectives set for it. Currently functioning as an ordinary laboratory, because it is attached to a Training and Research Unit, the Institute is very limited: many projects are developed by the researchers of this Institute and have been waiting for years for funding. No popularisation of a new technology relating to new and renewable energies will take place (or will take place with difficulty) if the Institute, which we want to be a reference, has only limited means. A strengthening of its capacities and an extension of its prerogatives seem indispensable. More generally, the dissemination of renewable energies requires specific knowledge: the greatest failures in the field of solar installations, for example, have often been linked to poor installations. The state could encourage and plan the training of engineers and technicians specialised in renewable energy, who could then guarantee reliable installations.

In the meantime, technology transfer mechanisms exist…

Christophe GBOSSOU

Article published on Mediaterre 23/01/10


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