Ivory Coast and Senegal look to solar


Energy performance in construction projects is becoming a reality in West Africa.

Governments in Ivory Coast and Senegal are committed to increasing the share of renewable energy to 20% of the energy mix as part of their agenda for economic development, backed by international funds.

Private companies in Ivory Coast have invested in renewable energy divisions in order to capitalize on the growing awareness of the economic and ecological benefits of clean energy. TD Continental, for example, has built a 45 MW PV power station in Ivory Coast.

In residential solar, Equinox Planet has a construction project of 149 villas and 80 apartments in an affluent neighbourhood of the economic capital, Abidjan. SobimCI, Cerisier Holding and Lauriers all claim solar energy is a definite plus in selling their products.

The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) is a multi-donor trust fund administered by the African Development Bank with funds of $60 million by the provided by the governments of Denmark and the U.S. for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

The development objective of the SEFA is to support sustainable private-sector led economic growth in Africa.

The SEFA awards preparation grants and technical assistance for renewable energy projects with a total investment commitment in the range of $30-200 million.

Projects can be Independent Power Producers (IPP) or public-private partnerships. In January, the SEFA announced its support for a 72 MW PV plant in Cameroon.

For smaller (5-50 MW) independent power projects of solar, wind, biomass and hydro, as well as some geothermal and stranded gas technologies, investment decisions are made by the African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF), a dedicated renewable energy fund with $100 million of committed capital.

The funds support small to medium-scale IPPs with $10-30 million projects.

SABER solar funding

Another funding option in the region is the SABER, an initiative by 14 African states to promote renewable energy intiatives in West Africa.

It disburses investment funds via the Fond Africain pour les Énergies Renouvelables and three main projects are under way: installing solar street lighting, solar kits and mini PV stations in rural areas, and the replacement of lighting by LBC/LED.

Opportunities also exist for solar energy suppliers to improve conditions for coffee and cocoa producers, rubber and palm oil farmers, many immersed in total darkness with medium-sized plantations having sufficient financial resources to purchase solar energy.

In January, the World Bank Group presented ‘scaling up solar', a program to support solar energy in Africa. Bertrand de la Borde, director of the Africa infrastructure department of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, is based in Dakar.

The government production plan up to 2017 calls for a 20% share of renewable energy. Of the 164 MW earmarked for renewables, 114 MW will be provided by solar technology.

Initiatives in this area are increasing. From a current capacity of about 12 MW of solar, authorities are aiming for 180 MW by 2020.