Having previously looked at the power sectors in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia , this Power to Africa instalment will examine the business climate in the Ivoirian power sector, and the challenges and opportunities facing the sector. As always, this instalment will be divided into two parts:

  • The first part will focus on the business climate in the Ivoirian power sector, examining the challenges facing the power sector and the policies in place to address these challenges; and
  • The second part will set out the opportunities and anticipated developments in the power sector in the Cte D'Ivoire.

Executive summary

The Cte D'Ivoire suffered a tumultuous decade up to 2011; gripped by political turmoil and an intermittent civil war, the country's infrastructure and economy deteriorated. However, since 2011, the Cte D'Ivoire has become one of Africa's economic success stories.

Despite ongoing political uncertainty and an aging power infrastructure, the Government of the Cte D'Ivoire (GoCI) wishes to establish the Cte D'Ivoire as a middle income country, extend access to power to the whole population and become the leading energy market in sub-Saharan Africa. These ambitions have placed a strain on the country's power supply as soaring economic growth, coupled with the demands of the GoCI, have created a surge in demand for electricity which must be met with new capacity.

The GoCI also wishes to diversify its energy mix, currently dominated by natural gas and hydropower, towards other renewable sources. The GoCI has therefore introduced a number of initiatives to create a greener and more diversified energy market.


The most significant challenges facing the Ivoirian power sector are set out below.

Political climate

he Cte D'Ivoire was embroiled in an intermittent civil war between 2002 and 2011, damaging its reputation as an investment destination and causing the economy to stagnate. In 2011, the civil war came to an end and Alassane Ouattara was installed as President.

Since 2011, the Cte D'Ivoire has experienced huge economic growth and a growth in foreign direct investment. According to the International Monetary Fund, the Cte D'Ivoire was Africa's fastest growing economy in 2016 and one of the world's fastest growing economies for the last 5 years, with a growth rate averaging just under 9%, a phenomenal rate of growth for the second largest economy in West Africa, and a country of 24 million people.

Despite the positive economic picture, the Cte D'Ivoire still faces a number of political challenges. In 2017, the country faced two strikes by the military as disgruntled soldiers took to the streets over unpaid wages totalling 101 billion CFA francs (c. US$ 186 million). In the same year, 200,000 civil servants went on strike, claiming 196 billion CFA francs (c. US$ 370 million) in salary arrears, and a large number of demobilised former rebel soldiers from the civil war began to campaign for financial compensation. With the falling price of cocoa creating budget constraints, the GoCI cannot afford to be settling large labour claims as well as investing in the country's infrastructure. T

he Cte D'Ivoire has sought to address any remaining instability in the country by strengthening its civil institutions under the National Development Plan 2016-2020 (Second NDP, explored below).

Insufficient capacity

While the growth in the Ivoirian economy is undeniably positive, it places a huge strain on the country's transmission and distribution grids and requires a rapid increase in generation capacity.

The Cte D'Ivoire's generation capacity has increased from 1,383 MW in 2010, to 1,886 MW in 2016 and to 2,149 MW in 2017. However, in order to keep up with demand growth, generation capacity will need to increase by at least 10% per year. This will require a huge investment from the GoCI, accompanied by legislative reforms. These are explored below.

The issue of insufficient capacity can only be addressed if the GoCI invests in the country's deteriorating distribution and transmission grids which are too outdated to deal with the volume of new load entering the system. The Cte D'Ivoire currently experiences widespread power losses (the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP) estimates that total energy losses on the grid amount to 22%) as a result of the unbalanced network.

According to the World Bank, in 2016, firms in the Cte D'Ivoire experienced an average of 3.5 power outages per month, equalling a mean outage time of 44.6 hours.

Access to power

The Cte D'Ivoire has a comparably high access to energy rate, at 62% according to the World Bank. However, this figure is largely skewed by the urban population, with just 36.5% of the rural population having access to power. Whilst the Cte D'Ivoire has one of the most extensive electricity coverage rates in sub-Saharan Africa, grid connections have proved too expensive for much of the rural population, costing up to US$ 250 according to the World Bank. This restricts rural development and creates a divergence between urban growth and rural stagnation.

Overreliance on hydropower

Hydropower is the Cte D'Ivoire's second largest source of power after natural gas, and the GoCI plans to significantly increase this hydroelectric capacity. However, reliance on hydropower can be risky, as the Cte D'Ivoire has previously experienced. In 1983 and 1984, drought forced the turbines in the country's then five dams (Kossou Dam, Taabo Dam, Buyo Dam and the Ayam I and Ayam II Dams) to be shut down after the lakes behind the dams almost dried up.

While the country is not as exposed to hydropower as other countries, such as Ethiopia (as detailed in our previous instalment ), the country must be wary of the potentially damaging consequences of global warming on hydroelectric power generation, particularly as it looks to increase its hydroelectric capacity.

Gas supply

The GoCI relies on natural gas to provide much of the country's new power supply. However, according to African Energy, and as set out in Figure 1, gas production is likely to fall dramatically after 2024. This is because the existing Ivoirian gas reserves will become depleted and private investment for exploration and development is unlikely given the economic volatility in the gas sector.

Figure 1. Gas production forecasts

Accordingly the GoCI has sought to increase the country's capacity to import gas. To this end, the Cte d'Ivoire GNL (a consortium between Petroci, CI-Energies, Total, Socar, Shell, Golar and Endeavor Energy) was awarded a contract in 2016 to build and operate an LNG regasification terminal in Abidjan, incorporating a floating storage and re-gasification unit. The LNG import terminal is scheduled to reach completion in 2018, and will import to 3 million tonnes of LNG annually, making the Cte d'Ivoire one of Africa's strongest prospective buyers of LNG.

While the GoCI is introducing solutions to overcome its potential shortfall of gas, this will damage its ambition to become a significant energy exporter and will expose the country to international LNG price fluctuations and supply-side shocks.


Although the Ivoirian power sector faces many challenges, the GoCI has been one of the most investor friendly sub-Saharan governments, and has sought to create a clear and robust legislative framework for private investment as set out below.

Legislative framework

The Electricity Law 1985 was a significant reform in the Cte d'Ivoire. It liberalised the power market and established a robust private sector framework. This power sector reform led to the GoCI being the first Sub-Saharan government to enter into a publicprivate partnership (PPP) with an Independent Power Producer (IPP) the CIPREL thermal power plant in the Vridi region in 1994.

Since the Electricity Law 1985, the GoCI has introduced various legislative reforms to further develop the power sector:

  • In 1998, the GoCI reformed the institutional framework relating to power, and established the Autorit Nationale de Rgulation du Secteur de l'lectricit (ANARE) as the regulator of the power sector.
  • In 2010, the GoCI established the Socit des Energies de Cte d'Ivoire, responsible for managing the national electricity supply, managing power projects on behalf of the GoCI and for granting concession agreements.
  • In 2011, the National Committee for the Promotion and Development of PPPs (the Committee) was set up to push forward market reforms. The Committee has since made recommendations that a new law be introduced to create a new, clearer, framework for PPPs and this law has been drafted and is in the course of being reviewed.
  • The Electricity Code 2014 created a framework for the private provision of the delivery, distribution, import and export of energy. It also granted ANARE increased authority and independence, reformed tariff pricing to make the sector more attractive to IPPs and introduced tougher criminal sanctions against illegal connections or damages to tackle losses as a result of criminal activity.

National Development Plans

In addition to market liberalisation, the GoCI has instigated two National Development Plans:

1. The National Development Plan 2012-2015 (First NDP) this sought to stabilise the country and lay the foundations for economic development following the civil war. The plan was a success and re-established the rule of law,

created strong economic growth, attracted 4,699 billion CFA Francs (c. US$ 8.9 billion) of private sector investment between 2012 and 2014, and had a huge social impact with schools, hospitals and roads being constructed and access to water and education improving; and

2. The National Development Plan 2016-2020 (Second NDP) this sought to build on the success of the First NDP by making the Cte d'Ivoire a middle-income economy by 2020. It has so far attracted US$ 15.4 billion in grants and loans, with the World Bank pledging to double its support of the Cte d'Ivoire over the period of the Second NDP (amounting to a US$ 5 billion pledge) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation entering into a US$ 525 million compact with the GoCI to spur economic growth and private investment in the country.

A large part of this Second NDP involves investment in the power sector, with the GoCI identifying 66 power projects that will require significant investment to meet its goals. According to Mr Adama Toungara, the Minister of Petroleum and Energy in 2016, the Second NDP seeks to make the Cte D'Ivoire the energy hub of sub-Saharan Africa "through the provision of quality, cheap and abundant energy to national and sub-regional populations".

The GoCI's aim under the Second NDP is therefore to double the installed capacity as at 2013 by 2020, increasing its generation capacity to 4,000 MW by 2020 and 6,000 MW by 2030. It also wishes to generate 34% of its power from renewable resources by 2020, and to invest US$ 20 billion in the sector by 2030 to meet rising demand.

To date, the GoCI is on track to achieve its targets, having invested US$ 6.6 billion into infrastructure relating to power generation.

Electricity for all

The GoCI's reforms to the power sector also include a push to increase accessibility to power, supported by a US$ 325 million loan from the World Bank. Under the National Program for Rural Electrification, launched in 2014, the GoCI aims to increase the electricity penetration and coverage rates to 80% and 100% respectively by 2020, and to provide electricity to 500 new localities per year until 2020. Additionally, the GoCI's Electricity for All programme was launched in the same year, aiming to establish 200,000 new grid connections per year.


The Cte d'Ivoire faces political instability, a poor transmission and distribution grid, soaring energy demands, gas shortages and an overreliance on an unreliable power source. However, the GoCI is almost unrivalled in West Africa for its commitment to market reform and investment in its power sector. Under the Second NDP, the Cte d'Ivoire stands in a strong position to fulfil its ambitions of becoming a middle income country, and a serious power exporter. These developments will present investors with many opportunities, which will be explored in the second part of this instalment of our Power to Africa series.