BENIN: State approves construction of 4 solar power plants

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BENIN: State approves construction of 4 solar power plants©Sebastian Noethlichs/Shutterstock

The Beninese government has decided to build four solar photovoltaic power plants with a combined capacity of 50 MW at the Council of Ministers on June 13, 2019. An initiative that will solve the country's thorny problem of untimely power outages and that will improve the rate of access to electricity at the same time.

“I’ll believe it when I see the power plants.” This statement by a young Beninese student, Eutyche Assongba, reflects mistrust. He learned that the State was considering installing a solar power plant in Parakou, the city in which he lives. He is only half-convinced, however, because he has become so used to the many electrical power cuts. Eutyche goes on to say something about the difficult times he experienced three years ago: “Before 2016, we had at least two to five blackouts a week. The only alternative was the generator”, a solution that was not very environmentally friendly.

Although things have improved considerably in recent years, Eutyche nevertheless blames the fact that power cuts seem to have taken root in Parakou. “Currently, we are experiencing interruptions that last 15 to 30 minutes. And per day, there can be 5 to 6 power outages,” he says. Like the 255,000 other inhabitants of Parakou, the young student welcomes with reserved enthusiasm the announcement of the installation of a 15 MW photovoltaic power plant in Parakou, which is the largest city in northern Benin.

The State is seriously considering the installation of solar photovoltaic power plants in four cities in the country. Together with Parakou, cities such as Bohicon, Djougou and Natitingou are also concerned. The capacities of the power plants installed in these three cities will reach 15 MW, 10 MW and 10 MW respectively, for a total capacity of 50 MW.

This agreement was announced at the end of the Ministerial Council held on Thursday June 13, 2019 in Cotonou, Benin. The project will be carried out as part of the implementation of the Energy Sector Master Plan that responds to the Millennium Challenge Account II Programme.

To implement this project, the government intends to sign partnerships with private sector providers. “The Board authorised the establishment of an ad hoc committee to conduct the selection process for independent power producers.”

Since 2016, the Beninese government has launched a major programme to improve access to electricity in the country. It aims to install at least 500 MW of electrical capacity by 2023. Currently, the country produces barely 50 MW for an access rate of less than 10% in urban areas.

Luchelle Feukeng


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