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    Thursday, July 4, 2024

    Electricity Supply to Sèmè-Kpodji in Benin: Extended Business Hours for Fatima Hounkanrin’s Shop

    The provision of electricity to Sèmè-Kpodji in Benin has had a transformative impact on the local economy, particularly for entrepreneurs like Fatima Hounkanrin. With access to a reliable power supply, Ms. Hounkanrin can now keep her shop open until late at night, significantly expanding her business opportunities and customer base.

    The town of Sèmè-Kpodji, situated on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in southeastern Benin, experiences nightfall. A significant portion of the town's inhabitants, including Fatima Hounkanrin, a 30-year-old proprietor of a modest retail establishment, are still actively engaged in their respective occupations. The installation of new streetlights in the vicinity has facilitated the extension of the shop's operating hours beyond dusk, enabling the sale of various commodities such as tomatoes, pepper, soap, beverages, and other household necessities.

    “Prior to the installation of lighting in the area, we were compelled to cease operations as soon as nightfall occurred. The introduction of electricity has greatly facilitated our operations, enabling us to remain open until late hours. We express our sincere gratitude to our benefactors for their invaluable contributions. However, there are still areas that have not yet benefited from this project, and we kindly request your consideration in extending the project to those areas, as lighting plays a pivotal role in fostering development.”

    Bertrand Éric Lokossou is delighted to have an electricity meter at home.

    Bertrand Éric Lokossou, another resident of Sèmè-Kpodji, is just as excited. “Officials from the electricity company came to talk to us a few days ago. They told us that there was a project underway and that they were going to supply us with electricity,” he says. “It was finished not long afterwards, and we’re all very pleased. We’d like to thank the donors for the happiness they’ve brought us.”

    He adds that requests for the installation of new electricity meters are processed speedily. “It’s good progress and we’re very happy about it.”

    Martine Padonou and her family depended on stoves and solar lamps for many years. Electricity supply was sporadic, and usually of low quality. Connection costs were also beyond reach. “We had to ask one of our distant neighbours to share his supply with us because we couldn’t afford the connection. It wasn’t easy at all,” she says. “There were frequent brownouts and almost constant power cuts, to the point where the elderly lady who lives with me hit her head one day following a power cut. She was very ill and it cost a lot of money to look after her. Fortunately, the electrification project thought of us and now we have a permanent supply with our own meter. Thanks be to God.”

    Fatima, Éric and Martine are among the first beneficiaries of the Electricity Corporation of Benin Sub-Transmission and Distribution System Restructuring and Extension Project, funded by a loan of USD 9.08 million and a donation of USD 7.28 million from the African Development Bank Group’s African Development Fund (ADF), as well as a loan of USD 17.79 million from the French Development Agency. The government of Benin also contributed USD 3.68 million through the Electricity Corporation of Benin, the public corporation responsible for producing, distributing, and selling electricity in Benin.

    Initiated in 2018 and slated for completion in late 2024, the project's objective is to augment electricity access across 13 cities in the Republic of Benin, encompassing the nation's primary urban centers of Cotonou and Porto-Novo, their neighboring regions, and additional cities such as Abomey, Bohicon, and Lokossa.

    A second goal is to improve the quality of electricity supply and reduce energy wastage – estimated at 23 percent in 2015 – in the Electricity Corporation of Benin’s sub-transmission networks.

    By March 2024, the project had seen the installation of about 1,545 high-voltage and 1,378 low-voltage poles. Works to improve the existing 63/15 kV substations in Akpakpa have also been completed, along with the construction of power lines in Gbégamey and Cotonou, and 63 kV substations in Lokossa-Hagoumey.

    The project has also worked on strengthening and extending the high-voltage/low-voltage distribution lines in Cotonou, Sèmè-Kpodji, Porto-Novo and Akpro-Missérété (tranche 1) and in Lokossa, Dogbo, Toviklin, Djakotomey, Klouékanmè, Abomey, Bohicon and Zogbodomey (tranche 2).

    Vissi Arnaud Adikpeto, the project coordinator, explains, “In time, the project will provide reliable electricity supply to the residents of the 13 cities and their surrounding areas, including to schools, health centres, and commercial and industrial businesses. In the medium term, the work will mean that the Electricity Corporation of Benin has 40,000 additional new subscribers, including at least 51 percent women.”

    On the status of the project, Éric Prégnon, project manager at the African Development Bank, says: “The civil engineering works on the sub-stations are complete. All the foreign manufacturing equipment is ready, the factory tests are done, and the equipment has been received on site. Once the substations are operational, and the rest of the poles and the meters have been installed, the project will have achieved its objective.”

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