Ivory Coast President wants to open power sector to competition

Ivory Coast will open up power and water distribution to competition to cut prices for consumers and companies in the West African nation, President Alassane Ouattara said on Sunday.

“We must end the monopoly of CIE and SODECI,” Ouattara said in an address to the nation broadcast on state-owned television Radiodiffusion Television Ivoirienne, referring to the main power and water companies. “I’m calling on all who wish to invest in this sector to do it so we can have a healthy competition that will allow to control the prices and bring the cost of electricity down.”

Ivory Coast’s electricity distribution is controlled by Cie Ivoirienne d’Electricite, or CIE, a unit of Eranove SA which is 56 percent-owned by private equity firm Emerging Capital Partners and 19 percent by Axa SA, according to its website. Eranove also has a stake in Societe de distribution d’eau de la Cote d’Ivoire, or SODECI.

“I’ve asked the prime minister to plan for a distribution of electricity by many companies,” Ouattara said. “It’s when we’ll have several companies that the prices will go down because distribution is too expansive.”

The rise in electricity prices that took effect in January will be annulled because it resulted in an increase up to 50 percent for some subscribers, Ouattara said. The planned rise was originally for 5 percent and wasn’t meant to include smaller customers, he said.

The Ivory Coast government decided last year to increase electricity prices over three years in order to boost power production and improve transportation, Ouattara said. The West African nation aims to double its power production capacity to 4,000 megawatts by 2020.

– Bloomberg