Niger has successfully launched its largest solar power plant, providing a much-needed boost to the country’s electricity grid amidst ongoing shortages caused by sanctions from neighboring Nigeria. The newly operational facility, located in Niamey, the capital, is capable of generating 30 megawatts of electricity, significantly augmenting the nation’s energy capacity.
Prior to the coup in July, Nigeria supplied 70% of Niger’s electricity. However, as part of regional sanctions against the coup leaders, Nigeria halted electricity exports, plunging Niger into frequent blackouts. This led to widespread disruptions to daily life, affecting businesses, schools, and healthcare facilities.
The newly operational solar plant, equipped with over 55,000 solar panels, has begun alleviating these electricity shortages. National power company Nigelec has already observed an improvement in service quality in Niamey and the towns of Dosso and Tillaberi.
Despite the plant’s successful start, France’s embassy in Niger has expressed concerns about potential operational risks due to its incomplete construction. The embassy noted that the plant did not meet the initially planned specifications, raising concerns about its long-term reliability.
Despite these concerns, the solar plant marks a significant step forward for Niger in diversifying its energy sources and reducing its reliance on imported electricity from Nigeria. The country is also undertaking the construction of a dam on the Niger River to further enhance its energy independence.
As Niger navigates the aftermath of the coup and the ongoing sanctions, the completion and operation of its largest solar power plant provide a glimmer of hope, signaling the country’s commitment to sustainable energy solutions and resilience in the face of challenges.