SOUBRE, Ivory Coast, March 6 Ivory Coast will
begin production at a 275 megawatt (MW) hydropower station next
month, boosting the West African economic powerhouse's total
capacity by around 10 percent, government officials said on
Water from the River Sassandra began rushing into the huge
dam near the southwestern city of Soubre on Monday and the plant
is due to reach full capacity within four months.
"We have finished construction of the dam ahead of our
timeframe," said Amidou Traore, director of power sector
management agency CI-Energies which oversees the project.
The plant was financed by a $500 million low-interest loan
from China's Export-Import Bank in 2013 and construction was by
China's state-owned hydropower engineering firm Sinohydro.
Ivory Coast already has six hydropower stations and four
more hydropower stations are due to be built in the West African
economic powerhouse as part of a national policy to reach a
capacity of 4,000 MW by 2020.
Current capacity with the new Soubre dam is 2,275 MW.
Unlike many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Ivory Coast has
an enviably reliable power supply and exports electricity to
neighbours Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and Mali.
It plans to extend the grid to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra
Leone this year, Traore added, as part of a $50 million
($1 = 624.5400 CFA francs)
(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Emma Farge;
editing by Susan Thomas)