In response to electricity shortages exacerbated by neighboring Nigeria’s sanctions following the July coup, Niger has successfully commenced operations at its largest solar power plant, announced Energy Minister Mahaman Moustapha Barke on Sunday.
Operated by the national power company Nigelec, the solar facility, equipped with over 55,000 solar panels, has already demonstrated an “improvement in the quality of the service” in Niamey, the capital, and the towns of Dosso and Tillaberi, as stated on national television by Minister Barke, according to TRT Africa.
Originally scheduled to begin operations on August 25, the plant faced delays due to a reduction in technical staff following the coup. However, dedicated technicians in Niamey ensured the successful startup, marking a crucial milestone in alleviating the country’s power woes.
With a capacity to generate 30 megawatts of electricity, the solar plant represents a significant investment, costing 20 billion CFA francs (approximately $33 million). Funding primarily came from a loan by the French development agency and an EU grant.
Niger, heavily reliant on Nigeria for 70 percent of its electricity before the coup, experienced frequent blackouts after Nigeria ceased electricity deliveries as part of regional sanctions against the coup leaders. In a bid to diversify its energy sources and reduce dependence, Niger has also initiated the construction of its first dam on the Niger River.
The successful operation of the solar power plant marks a crucial step towards energy independence and stability for Niger, addressing immediate power challenges while also contributing to the nation’s long-term energy resilience.