Madagascar Electricity Union Wants Power Projects to Stay Local

The union chief of Madagascar’s state-run power company called for greater involvement by local companies in infrastructure projects after U.S.-based Symbion Power LLC was chosen to build plants that will ease chronic blackouts.

Electricity cuts in the Indian Ocean island nation have been a source of public frustration that sparked violent protests and the resignation of Prime Minister Roger Kolo and his cabinet in January. The government of President Hery Rajaonarimampianina is struggling to deliver on its promise to improve living conditions in Madagascar and boost an economy that was destabilized by a coup in 2009 that drove away donors.

Domestic companies should reap the benefits of construction contracts, which would lead to more job creation, said Oliva Andriamanalina, secretary-general of L’Inter-syndical de la Jirama, in an interview.

Power shortages have resumed in the capital, Antananarivo, and other areas as equipment failures have reduced Jirama’s production capacity, said Andriamanalina.

Symbion announced on July 24 that it reached an agreement with Madagascar to build seven power plants with a combined generating potential of 180 megawatts, derived from heavy fuel oil, solar and biomass sources. Symbion said it formed a partnership with Vision Madagascar, known as VIMA, to train workers and increase local capacity, according to a statement.

In Africa, Symbion also has a presence in Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

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