Solar energy in Côte d’Ivoire: Overview

The current global warming and the awareness of almost all the world’s decision-makers are today favouring the amplification of the debate on the possibilities of exploiting other energy sources. Indeed, for several decades now, most industrialised countries have been gradually integrating “less polluting” energy sources into their energy policies.

In Côte d’Ivoire, major renewable energy projects are still not on the horizon: thanks to its six hydroelectric dams, natural gas and oil, the country is said to be self-sufficient in energy and is one of the West African countries that exports electricity!

It is true that various experiments in solar electrification exist and have been carried out in the country. Since the beginning of the 1980s, Côte d’Ivoire, through the EECI (Energie Electrique de Côte d’Ivoire), has been aware of the interest of solar energy. Thus, the first solar project initiated in 1981, which is actually a pilot project, was part of an experimental rural electrification programme running from 1981 to 1986. Called the Lataha experimental rural solar electrification project, this experimentation gave some encouraging results, having favoured the realisation of other small solar projects, in this case the Ninkro electricity installations in Toumodi.

In addition, the State of Côte d’Ivoire has carried out other smaller-scale actions.

These include

-A solarisation programme set up in February 1995 by the Ivorian government. Since June 1995, solarisation tests have been initiated by the Directorate of Energy in the region of TOUBA (West of Côte d’Ivoire) and KORHOGO (North of Côte d’Ivoire). Some of the solar installations were made well before the government programme and total more than 90 KWp. They were dedicated to several uses, namely: water pumping, communication and signalling, domestic lighting, public lighting, conviviality points.

-The ATERSA project

The objective of the ATERSA project was to provide electricity through solar photovoltaic energy systems to 105 villages located in an area far from the conventional electricity grid in Côte d’Ivoire. The technical implementation and financing was to be carried out by a Spanish company, ATERSA. The ATERSA project was interrupted in 2002, due to the events of September (armed rebellion and partition of the country).

Since then, nothing…

Despite an average solar flux of around 5 kwh/m2/d, a population still in the dark estimated at 6 million inhabitants and a perfect knowledge of the importance of the ecological stakes of promoting renewable energy, the country continues to hesitate…

However, the efforts of the GEF must be acknowledged. Indeed, the UNDP GEF microfinance programme (minimum comfort), in the implementation of its operational programme to combat climate change aimed at promoting “alternative energy in rural and peri-urban community groups”, has made it possible to promote energy-saving technologies as well as renewable energy sources (solar, biogas, etc.). The programme, which has been in existence since 1999, has made it possible, through a network of NGOs (non-governmental organisations), CBOs (community-based organisations) and mutual development organisations, to provide solar photovoltaic electricity to schools, housing for medical and teaching staff, and health centres in the GEF’s Priority Intervention Zones (ZIP) (North, Centre, South-East, South-West) at an average rate of 1,500 Wp/year, corresponding to approximately US$260,000/year. It has also enabled the installation of solar water heaters, solar refrigerators and numerous improved stoves.

Given the scale of the ecological crisis, initiatives relating to the dissemination of alternative energies to fossil fuels from international or private structures should not supplant the actions of the State…

Christophe GBOSSOU

Christophe GBOSSOU is a doctoral student at the SIS (Sciences, Engineering, Health) Doctoral School in St Etienne, France. He holds a Master’s degree in development studies from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, and is interested in the issues and innovation networks related to the dissemination of renewable energy in developing countries. He is currently at SITE (Science, Information and Technology for the Environment) and his thesis supervisor is Professor Christian Brodhag.

e-mail: cgbossou@yahoo.fr

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