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Struggling to Keep the Lights on in Abidjan

A drop in electricity generation in Ivory Coast and Ghana has left households and businesses fuming as well as cutting power supplies to neighbouring West African countries Mali and Burkina Faso, officials said. A prolonged dry season has reduced water levels at hydropower dams in both countries that in some cases could take months to resolve, hampering productivity, raising costs and hitting the economies of the world’s biggest cocoa producers. In Ivory Coast, which exports power to six countries, the national power company faces a generation deficit of about 200 megawatts (MW), or nearly 10% of its 2,230 MW capacity. In Ghana, which exports to Burkina Faso, the national utility is carrying out rolling outages until May 17. The power regulator on Friday blamed the problem on several issues including work on transmission lines and a lack of rain that has left reservoirs depleted in the north of the country. The outages in Ivory Coast have led to complaints from the cocoa sector, which depends on a steady power supply for its grinding machines. Two industry sources said most cocoa grinders were operating at between 25% and 50% of capacity.