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* Illegal connections, meter tampering rampant
* New power code to clamp down on abuses
* Ivory Coast to add 230 MW to output by year's end
By Loucoumane Coulibaly
ABIDJAN, April 17 Ivory Coast plans to clamp
down on rampant fraud, which is costing its power utility CIE
around 45 billion CFA francs ($90.07 million) in lost
revenues each year, a senior government official said.
Ivorian authorities are pushing for heavy investments to
boost power output and meet growing demand in the West African
nation, where economic growth is rebounding after lagging the
rest of Africa for a decade.
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa grower, has an enviably
reliable power supply by regional standards and already exports
electricity to its neighbours.
However, Sabati Cisse, energy director for the country's
ministry of mines and energy, said illegal connections and meter
tampering were widespread.
"Fraud is causing us to lose around 45 billion CFA francs
annually. We're working to fight this fraud through the new
electricity code which is going to come out," he told Reuters
late on Tuesday.
In accordance with aid donor requirements, Ivory Coast is
updating legislation relating to its mining, agriculture and
The new power code is due to take effect this year.
"From now on there will be sanctions and criminal charges
levied against cheaters, and verification brigades on the
ground," Cisse said.
CIE - which is partly owned by French industrial group
Bouygues - posted a net profit of 8.39 billion CFA
francs for 2012, up 32 percent from the precious year, on
turnover of 324.60 billion CFA francs.
As part of efforts to spur its recovery from a brief civil
war in 2011, Ivory Coast is aiming to increase power production
by around 80 percent over the next six years.
Cisse said several projects due to come online in 2013 would
add around 230 megawatts to current production capacity of 1,420
London-listed short-term power supplier Aggreko
will boost output by 100 megawatts by early May and electricity
producer CIPREL, a Bouygues subsidiary, will have a new 110
megawatt gas turbine completed by the end of the year.
Repairs to a turbine at the state-owned Vridi thermal plant
will add another 20 megawatts in May.
"All of this is being done to keep up with economic growth,"
Six months of violence in the wake of presidential elections
in late 2010 led to a 4.7 percent contraction in GDP in 2011,
but Ivory Coast recorded growth of 9.8 percent last year. The
government forecasts double-digit growth by 2014.
($1 = 499.5860 CFA francs)
(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly, writing by Joe Bavier;
Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Susan Fenton)