WASHINGTON, July 26, 2007 – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a US$38.8 million equivalent International Development Association (IDA) credit to increase access to, and improve Burkina Faso’s electricity services.

As one element of Burkina Faso’s least-cost energy sector expansion strategy, the Energy Access Project aims to bolster productivity, increase employment opportunities, and improve quality of life.

"For Burkina Faso to significantly reduce poverty, expanding access to modern energy services is crucial," said World Bank Senior Economist Koffi Ekouevi and Task Team Leader of the project.

Currently, 18.5 percent of Burkina Faso’s population has access to electricity. The rest use kerosene for lighting while roughly 90 percent are dependent on wood energy (firewood and charcoal).

"The low levels of access to electricity are a handicap for the development of small- and medium-size productive enterprises, while also limiting the impact of existing social programs," said Ekouevi. "There are also environmental and health consequences associated with heavy reliance on wood energy. Inefficient burning of firewood emits toxic substances such as carbon monoxide, sulfur, and nitrogen oxides, which cause bronchitis, emphysema, and other respiratory diseases."

The Energy Access Project will specifically finance grid-based rehabilitation, expansion, and intensification in urban and peri-urban areas, expand access to electricity services in rural, peri-urban and remote areas, and develop communications campaigns that encourage efficient energy use practices.

Additionally, the project will finance community-based sustainable woodfuels supply management, inter-fuel substitution initiatives, and related training and promotional campaigns.

The third project component will finance the strengthening of public energy agencies, the capacity development of energy service providers, as well as outreach, partnerships, and harmonization initiatives.

Background

The Energy Access Project capitalizes on the ongoing Power Sector Development Project (PSDP) following the country’s paradigm shift towards the consideration of least-cost investment options, including interconnection with neighboring countries. The PSDP will allow Burkina Faso to bring substantially cheaper hydro and gas-based electricity to the Ouagadougou region from neighboring Côte d’Ivoire by the end of 2008, as was done in Burkina’s Bobo-Dioulasso region. Along the Bobo-Dioulasso-Ouagadougou transmission lines, there is tremendous potential for electricity access expansion to households, production units, basic social services (health care and education centers), and administrative and recreational centers in many communities. Furthermore, there is potential for linking isolated centers currently powered by diesel generators to the main grid and expanding distribution networks in major towns and peri-urban areas.