Mahaman Moustapha Barké, Niger's Minister of Energy, has announced the commissioning of a 30 MWp photovoltaic solar power plant. The infrastructure, located around ten kilometres from the capital Niamey, was built under the aegis of Nigerien Electricity Company (NIGELEC) with a view to improving the city's electricity supply.
Niamey, the capital of Niger (population 1.5 million), has just seen an improvement in its electricity supply. According to the Niger electricity company (NIGELEC), this improvement also concerns the regions of Dosso (to the south) and Tillabéri (to the west). This has been made possible by the commissioning of the Gourou Banda solar power plant, with a capacity of 30 MWp.
Ce jour, le Ministre du Pétrole, des Mines et de l'Energie a visité la centrale solaire 30 MWc de Gorou Banda dont la mise en service récente a permis d'améliorer la desserte en énergie électrique des abonnés NIGELEC des régions du fleuve… pic.twitter.com/NozkOGBNIr
— NIGELEC (@NIGELEC_SA) November 25, 2023
Equipped with 55,608 solar panels, each with an output of 540 W, this is the largest solar photovoltaic park in operation in Niger. The construction of this power station (over a two-year period) required the mobilisation of 30 million euros (20 billion CFA francs), financed to the tune of 23.5 million euros by the French Development Agency (AFD) in the form of a loan, 5 million euros by the European Union (EU) and the remaining 1.5 million by the State of Niger.
Commissioning delayed by the coup d’état
In an announcement made on national television on Sunday 26 November 2023, Niger’s Minister of Energy, Mahaman Moustapha Barké, said that the commissioning of the Gourou Banda solar power plant would reduce the load shedding that the country had been experiencing for more than three months. Neighbouring Nigeria, which used to supply 70% of the electricity distributed by NIGELEC, has stopped supplying Niger. The West African country has been under sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) since the military coup of 26 July 2023 that toppled President Mohamed Bazoum.
The coup also delayed the commissioning of the plant, which was due to be operational on 25 August 2023, one month after its inauguration by the deposed president. “Most of the technical staff left the country after the coup. The start-up of the power station was made possible by certain technicians who remained in Niamey”, explains Minister Mahaman Moustapha Barké.
Even before the coup d’état on 26 July 2023, Niger’s electricity coverage was not looking good. According to Niger’s National Institute of Statistics (INS), the city of Niamey suffers from frequent load shedding, despite the extension of thermal production capacity in 2017. Nationally, electrification stood at 15.72% in 2020, with a wide disparity between rural areas and towns.