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Ivory Coast Table of Contents

Ivory Coast



In the late 1980s, electrical production in Côte d'Ivoire surpassed that of most other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Its five hydroelectric stations and the large thermal station at Vridi provided electricity for the central and southern portions of the country, where most industrial activity took place. In addition, a number of smaller thermal facilities provided electricity for urban areas scattered throughout the country. The number of urban centers with electrical service increased rapidly from 292 in 1975 to 620 in 1984, with 740 predicted for 1990. In 1986 total generating capacity amounted to 2,060 gigawatt-hours. The industrial sector consumed 1,026 gigawatt-hours of high-voltage electricity; the remaining capacity was consumed by more than 350,000 low-voltage subscribers.

After independence, Electrical Energy of Ivory Coast (Energie Electrique de Côte d'Ivoire--EECI), the Ivoirian power company, had sought to replace costly thermal units with hydroelectric power. The first two dams, Ayamé I and Ayamé II at Ayamé, began generating in 1962 and 1965, respectively. Following the rise of oil prices on the world market in the early 1970s, the government embarked upon a major program to tap its considerable hydroelectric potential. In 1973 the government commissioned a 176-megawatt hydroelectric facility on the Bandama River at Kossou. The Kossou Dam project was by far the most expensive of Côte d'Ivoire's hydroelectric facilities; construction cost billions of CFA francs, as did the relocation of 85,000 Baoulé farmers from the region that was to have been flooded (see Ethnic Groups and Languages , ch. 2). Lake Kossou (Lac de Kossou) was expected to cover a surface three times the size of Lake Geneva and to double the country's electrical generation. In fact, poor rainfall during the mid-1970s prevented Lake Kossou from filling to its maximum capacity, and Kossou's output was far less than anticipated. With the return of normal rainfall levels in 1979, hydroelectric power generation rose significantly and permitted a cutback in oil-fired thermal output.

A second dam, with a capacity of 210 megawatts, was constructed downriver at Taabo and was brought into production in 1979. In the west of the country on the Sassandra River, the 165-megawatt Buyo Dam was completed in 1980, bringing the country's total hydroelectric capacity to 600 megawatts. By 1982 about 90 percent of the country's electrical energy came from hydroelectric sources, thus reducing significantly the amount of fuel the country needed to import.

A serious drought in 1983 and 1984, however, nearly dried up the lakes behind all five dams. Turbines were shut down, and the country was obliged to rely once again on the thermal power produced by its original 210-megawatt facility at Vridi and to reactivate two smaller thermal units in the north and west of the country. Electrical production fell by 18.3 percent, causing blackouts in Abidjan and productivity losses amounting to 35 percent in the industrial sector.

To help alleviate the crisis, the government installed four thermal generators at Vridi, financed by the European Investment Bank and the Central Fund for Economic Cooperation (Caisse Centrale pour la Coopération Economique--CCCE). The four turbogenerators had a total capacity of 100 megawatts and were able to run on natural gas as well as fuel oil, enabling EECI to tap offshore gas sources as they became available. The government also agreed to purchase 178 gigawatt-hours of power from neighboring Ghana in 1983-84 and 322 gigawatt-hours in 1984-85. Good rains in 1984 replenished the lakes and allowed EECI to reactivate the hydroelectric generators; accordingly, thermal production decreased from 78.1 percent of the total in 1983-84 to 30.5 percent in 1984-85.

Data as of November 1988