Niger has started running its biggest solar power plant, filling in the shortage brought about by a cut in imported power supply from neighbouring Nigeria in July.
Nigeria – which accounted for 70% of Niger’s power – cut its electricity supply in August after neighbouring countries imposed sanctions on Nigerien military leaders who overthrew elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
Most of Niger has since then suffered frequent blackouts.
Energy Minister Mahaman Moustapha Barke said on Sunday that quality of electricity supply had improved in the capital and other towns following the coming online of the solar plant.
The French embassy in Mali has said it notes the “operational launch” of the plant but warns that it faces operational risks as it “could not be finalised under the conditions initially planned”.
The plant, built by a French consortium, was initiated in 2018 and inaugurated on 5 July this year. French relations with the Nigerien junta have soured since the coup.
The plant has over 55,000 solar panels and can generate 30 megawatts of electricity.
It had been due to begin operations in August but that was delayed following the 26 July coup that overthrew Mr Bazoum and many of the technical operators left.
Mr Barke, the junta’s energy minister, on Sunday said the plant’s coming into operation had been made possible by the technical workers who remained.