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An aerial view of an electricity production plant in the Soubre hydroelectric dam project in Ivory Coast. Photo: AFP

Ivory Coast formally opens huge China-funded dam

Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara has inaugurated a huge Chinese-funded dam designed to boost the country’s power capacity by nearly 14 per cent.

The four-turbine, 4km-long Soubre dam is expected to add 275 megawatts of power to the network’s annual supply, said Amidou Traore, managing director of the electricity firm CI-Energie.

China has provided 85 per cent of its cost, estimated at US$583 million. Construction began in 2013 and the first turbine went online in June.

Large dam projects are widely attacked by environmentalists for their impact on river flow, which affects wildlife habitats.

But Outtara, in his inauguration speech, noted the west African country’s commitments under the 2015 Paris climate-change agreement to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 28 per cent by 2030, across all sectors.

“The Soubre hydroelectric dam, by producing renewable energy, will help us to reach this goal,” he said, adding that companies would also get a boost in competitiveness.

The Chinese embassy described the initiative as emblematic of cooperation between the two counties.


A major economy in West Africa, Ivory Coast launched a scheme to rebuild its electrical infrastructure after a bout of violent political upheaval in 2010-11.

Production will double by 2020 according to the plan, which foresees investment of nearly 16 billion euros (US$18.6 billion), funded mostly from the private sector, by 2030.

As the country’s biggest hydroelectric scheme, Soubre will boost the share of renewables in Ivory Coast’s energy mix to 45 per cent, Traore said. The rest is provided by fossil fuels.