Ivory Coast Power Utility Plans Exports as Profit Grows

Ivory Coast’s electricity monopoly, which has a stock that’s soared 95 percent over the past year, will increase exports as rising domestic demand boosts profit amid an economic recovery in the world’s biggest cocoa producer.

Ivory Coast’s capacity is 1,421 megawatts, which will rise by 100 megawatts by the end of the month when Glasgow-based Aggreko Plc’s power plant in Abidjan boosts capacity, Stephan Dauriac, Cie Ivoirienne d’Electricite’s deputy director-general in charge of finance management and logistics, said in an e-mailed response to questions yesterday. Ivory Coast’s neighbor, Ghana, has capacity of about 2,500 megawatts and Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, generates about 4,000 megawatts.

Ivory Coast is planning to spend $4 billion over the next six years in energy infrastructure to boost electricity output by 1,100 megawatts, Mining and Energy Minister Adama Toungara said in November. The expansion comes as the country recovers from a five-month crisis sparked by a disputed election in late November 2010. CIE’s profit rose 32 percent to 8.39 billion CFA francs ($16 million) in 2012, it said last month.

After contracting 4.7 percent in 2011, Ivory Coast’s economy grew 9.8 percent last year. The government forecasts expansion of 9 percent this year and above 10 percent by 2014.

“With economic growth on the rise and strong economic prospects, household consumption should grow as people will use more household goods,” Dauriac said.

Mining Demand

Paris-based Finagestion SA, a holding company that’s 60 percent controlled by U.S. private-equity investor Emerging Capital Partners LLC, holds 54 percent of CIE while the Ivorian government has a 15 percent stake, according to its website. The shares were unchanged at 43,000 francs on the Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres today in Abidjan. The BRVM’s composite index has gained 39 percent in the past year.

Ivory Coast exports an average of 73 megawatts, or 645 annual gigawatt hours, to neighboring countries including Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo and Benin, he said. The figure will rise to 1,000 gigawatt hours this year and 2,000 gigawatt hours by 2016-17, Dauriac said. Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have asked for electricity from the biggest economy in the eight-member Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa. One megawatt is enough to power 500 to 1,000 U.S. homes. South Africa has generating capacity of 41,000 megawatts.

Demand for energy is rising in Ivory Coast’s mining, infrastructure and agricultural processing industries, Dauriac said. Randgold Resources Inc. opened its Tongon gold mine in October 2011 in northern Ivory Coast, where CIE cut back operations following a 2002 army mutiny that split the country between a government-controlled south and rebel-held north.

CIE, which got just 15 percent of its bills paid in the north from 2002 to 2011, is in talks with the government for the money owed, Dauriac said. The company now has a collection rate of about 50 percent in the region, which is still not enough to make operations there profitable, he said. CIE has 190,000 customers in the north and 1.15 million nationwide.

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