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Ivory Coast's energy leap [Business Africa]

Business Africa   -  
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Business Africa

This week Business Africa devotes itself entirely to the energy and banking sectors in Côte d'Ivoire. In this West African country, several banks including Standard Chartered and the National Investment Bank have decided to go digital.

To achieve its energy revolution, Côte d'Ivoire chose to privatise this sector in 1993. More than 25 years later, the country has one of the best production capacities in Africa and aims to cover 99% of its population by 2035 and produce 42% of renewable energy.

Mr Ahmadou Bakayoko, Director-General of the Ivorian Electricity Company (Compagnie Ivoirienne d'Electricité) responds to pertinent questions on the subject in an interview conducted by Africanews journalist Ruth Lago.

How did Côte d'Ivoire manage to achieve this energy leap from 34 to 94% coverage of its national territory?

In my opinion, there are two main reasons for this performance over the last 10 years. The first is that we have an institutional framework with a rather balanced distribution of actors between a state company called Côte d'Ivoire Energie -- which is in charge of investment in the network, and an important place is given to the private sector with the Compagnie Ivoirienne d'Électricité in charge of operating the network.

Côte d'Ivoire Energie has set up a rural electrification programme and thanks to this programme we have gone from 2,000 localities to just over 6,000 localities at a rate of 2,000 per year. We have set up an access programme at the level of the EC in consultation with you -- which allows you to start accessing electricity from just 1000 francs, and then the person will pay for it over several years through deductions.

The country has won the battle for energy coverage, but the cost of kilowatts per hour remains an access barrier. What do you say to this?

There are two elements in a bill: the price of the kilowatt-hour and the quantity of energy you consume. These two elements make up your bill if you look at the price today, we have the most competitive price per kilowatt-hour in the sub-region. We are at 60 francs for most consumers, so we are rather in the low price per account category.

The second element -- which is a great challenge, is that a certain number of people are equipped with equipment that does not have a great energy efficiency for a long time. In our country, there was no obligation to indicate the efficiency of the equipment. If you go to other countries there is a category ABCDE. Thus, somewhere according to the type of energy efficiency which you take at the level of your air-conditioner, of your TV, of your freezer -- and well for the same use, your invoice can vary from 30, 40%.

We are going to help the populations to be able to better control their consumption and we are going to help them to be able to identify. There are laws that are arriving in Côte d'Ivoire which are going to make it compulsory to identify the level of consumption. Moreover, we are going to give them information on the evolution of their consumption -- which is going to enable them to be able to follow this consumption and to better control it.

Even more innovative banking solutions

How can the rate of banking be raised among the youth in Côte d'Ivoire? -- which is still dominated by formal businesses and their employees.

This is the bet that some banks such as Standard Chartered and Bni have made, by developing Self Banking, the possibility of opening an account directly online and reducing traditional costs.

Except that this digital makeover requires more security.