With a pioneering project to Côte d’Ivoire

Women in Côte d'Ivoire

Switching to solar energy is often associated with major hurdles, especially financial ones, for companies in emerging markets. This is also the case in Côte d’Ivoire, where the potential of solar energy has only recently been recognized and the market is still in its infancy despite good legal conditions. To date, few project developers and financiers have ventured into projects in the West African country, often preventing Ivorian companies from realizing their desire for solar energy.

We set out to change just that. Because if there’s one thing we’re not afraid of, it’s entering new markets with our innovative solution. That is why we did not shy away from being one of the first solar companies to venture into the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and implement our first solar project there. The fact that this was a solar installation for the Goethe Institute in Côte d’Ivoire, and that we were thus able to strengthen German-African relations not only through the project itself but also through the supported institute, made the decision very easy for us.

Solar energy in Côte d’Ivoire? New territory

Until a few years ago, one searched in vain for solar installations throughout the country. The West African country’s electricity mix was – and still is – primarily determined by gas and hydropower. It was only in 2018 that the government began to focus more on renewable energies and to also rely on wind power, solar energy and biomass to generate electricity. Other neighboring countries were quicker. Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana have long relied on the power of the sun. Côte d’Ivoire now wants to follow suit and rely more on renewables. And that should pay off, because thanks to its location near the equator, the country offers good conditions for the use of solar power.

Solar plant in Côte d'Ivoire

The signs are green

In its efforts to diversify the electricity mix and make it greener, the government of Côte d’Ivoire has issued clear guidelines that favor the generation and use of solar power. This makes it easier for businesses and other users of solar energy to take the plunge and switch to their own power. From an economic point of view, Côte d’Ivoire also offers good conditions for the operation of solar plants. With an annual growth rate of over 6%, only the economies of Nigeria and Ghana are growing faster in all of West Africa. The country’s currency is also relatively stable and promises good price stability. All these factors favor the expansion of solar energy.

“With a strong average GDP growth, demand for energy by Ivorian businesses is on a high rise. And just like any other business in Africa, cost of energy for business operations is always a challenge. Hence, we are excited to bring our affordable, reliable and easily accessible clean energy solution to a first local business in Ivory Coast.”

Doreen Kanetey-Essel, Country Manager, Ghana

However, despite the change in political thinking and the favorable economic conditions, there are still hardly any solar installations in Côte d’Ivoire. In 2020, solar power accounted for just 13 MW of the total power generation capacity of 2,232 MW. This is 0.58%. By comparison, the proportion in neighboring countries is significantly higher. In Ghana, the figure is 1.75%, and in Burkina Faso it is as high as 14.18%. This is mainly due to easy access to gas deposits, which supply most of Ivoria’s electricity.

Solar energy in Côte d'ivoire for the Goethe-Institut

One of the first of its kind

So what can be done to make electricity more sustainable after all? Get active yourself! The Goethe-Institut in Abidjan thought so, too, and wants to set a clear signal for regenerative power generation with its own solar plant. By using its own solar power, the institute aims to significantly reduce its environmental impact and provide food for thought on sustainability. This is a topic that the institute has been dealing with for a long time and that has a permanent place in the curriculum. The solar plant was inaugurated in mid-February and is now ready for operation!

Participants of the inauguration ceremony for the Goethe-Institut solar plant.

Our decision to act as project operator and financier for the institute was an easy one. We see it as part of our mission to pioneer and offer our Solar-as-a-Service solution in more and more countries. It fills us with pride that we were involved in the implementation of one of the first projects of its kind in Côte d’Ivoire. We hope that many other companies will take the Goethe-Institut as an example and soon make solar energy the new standard in Côte d’Ivoire. We’re here to support them.