Senegal Says Five More Years Of Power Cuts

Country won't reach crucial 1000 MW until 2012.

Power cuts in Senegal, increasingly serious in recent months, are likely to continue for another five years, local media reported Aug. 9, citing energy minister Samuel Sarr. Sarr told the country's national assembly that electricity production would only reach the crucial level of 1,000 megawatts (MW) by 2012, RTS public radio reported. Current output is almost half that at 550 megawatts.

The government was trying to step up investment in the country's electricity company Senelec and deal with what Sarr called the "tyranny" of fuel prices. That investment would include one coal-fired and one biomass-powered station, he added.

The government has already poured 40 billion CFA francs (US$ 84 million) into Senelec so it could obtain enough oil, said Sarr.

A report released earlier this week by the regional office of the World Bank estimated that the budget deficit had almost doubled from the previous year, from three percent to nearly six percent of GDP. The report blamed the rise in part on financial problems in the electricity and oil refinery industries that had required government subsidies. To close that deficit again, Senegal had to "in all urgency resolve the crisis in its energy sector," the report said. It noted that the 2006 subsidies paid to the electricity and oil refinery sectors amounted to "half the total budget allocated to education and health."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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