Work on a project to provide towns in Niger with electricity from neighbouring Nigeria has just been launched by the ministry responsible for energy in Niger, according to information from the ministry.
The project includes extending an electricity network that connects the southern town of Maradi to Nigeria so that it covers the region of Tahoua, in east central Niger.
Chetimari in Diffa Region, eastern Niger, is to be connected to Damassak in northern Nigeria by another network to be created under the scheme, known as the Projet de Développement du réseau électrique interconnecté du Niger (DREIN - Project for the Development of Niger's Interconnected Electric Network).
The cost of the project is 9.5 billion CFA francs (about US $15.5 million).
To link Tahoua to the Nigeria-Maradi grid, two networks extending over a total of 444 km will be established, bringing electricity to the region's main towns and about a dozen other localities.
A 254-km network will link more than a score of localities in Diffa Region, including the towns of Maine Soroa, N'Guigmi and Diffa, to Damassak in Nigeria.
The project will enable Niger's electricity company, Nigelec, to shut down eight diesel plants whose production costs amounted to 170 CFA francs per kilowatt/hour (kwh), seven times higher that the price of energy imported from Nigeria: 24 CFA francs per kwh. (US $1 = 611 CFA francs). In addition to cutting costs, the project will allow the company to increase its income since more localities will be connected to the electricity grid, ministerial sources said.
Niger generally depends on Nigeria for most of its electricity: in 1999 imported electricity from Nigeria represented 84.71 percent of the energy consumed in the neighbouring country.
Some six percent of Niger's roughly 10 million people have access to electricity, although in areas connected to the national electricity grid, the access rate averages 25 percent.
Nigelec (Société nigérienne d’électricité) is one of 13 state companies which the government plans to privatise under an agreement with international financial institutions.