Benin Energy Situation
1.1 Energy Sector
Benin’s energy balance of 2002 shows that 67 % of the total energy consumption derives from biomass, whereas only 2 % derive from electricity and 31 % from oil products. The key problem in the energy sector is the non-sustainable use of biomass: while consumption has increased between 1997 and 2002 at an annual rate of 5 %, forest areas were reduced by 39 %. Almost 100 % of the Atacora and Donga districts’ energy needs are satisfied by firewood. This results in a massive degradation of forest resources. Another problem is the low access rate to electricity in rural areas: while the national power board SBEE has increased the electrification rate in urban areas from 20 to 50 % since 1990, only 1.5 % of rural areas are connected to the grid. In order to accomplish its fixed energy goals, the government of Benin has reformulated a sector strategy, which has been presented and ratified in March 2005. It aims at providing 150 villages p.a. with access to electricity in order to achieve a rural electrification rate of 30–40 % by 2015 and at the same time promoting the dissemination of improved stoves and other renewable domestic energy sources. The project submitted to DGIS supports the implementation of this sector strategy.
The major target areas of Atacora / Donga, in north-western Benin, are characterised by high poverty indices and advanced ecological problems. Further target areas are the Ouémé and Plateau Districts in the south west of the country, where a higher level of economic activities would allow a more commercially based approach.
1.2 Problem Situation
Although the Government of Benin clearly defined a strategy for rural electrification, SBEE is far from being capable of achieving these goals due to insufficient financial capacities. In addition to the financial bottleneck, one important reason is the lack of knowledge about low-cost alternatives to the business as usual scenario of grid extension. This scenario was designed originally for urban areas based on high technical “EDF” standards that are inappropriate for rural areas. Furthermore, for political reasons, SBEE focuses on the extension of the grid to previously non-electrified regions, instead of increasing the number of connected households in proximity to the grid. Therefore, PDCC concentrates on both densification and extension of the existing grid, in order to make optimum use of scarce resources. During the current first two phases of PDCC (2 x 1.5 M€), it was confirmed that the scaling up of electrification activities in Benin is viable, well accepted by the target group and thus highly desirable. With 30 % financial contribution to the investment in grid extension, SBEE demonstrated strong ownership. The proposed third phase is aimed to expand the grid electrification activities of the current phase to additional sites, mainly by using transformers to make nearby 33 kV medium voltage lines accessible to surrounding villages. Furthermore, the focus on poorer families will be enhanced by increasing the connection rate in electrified villages. With regards to accompanying measures (sensitisation to improved access, promotion of more productive use, reduction of grid densification costs etc.) the successful approach of the current phases will be continued and improved if necessary.
It is intended to enhance technical assistance to SBEE, mainly in the field of low cost electrification strategies and commercialisation, e.g. the introduction of appropriate prepaid metering technology and the establishment of successful accompanying measures carried out by local NGOs. Further technical assistance will be dedicated to the rural electrification agency ABERME that will be included by the promotion of pilot PV systems for social institutions. The proposed third phase is part of a joint AFD (Agence Francaise de Development) -EnDev project within the framework of the EU Energy Facility. The joint AFD-EnDev proposal has already been approved on a provisional basis by the EU commission. AFD and EU will contribute € 7.8 million and € 7.7 million respectively.