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Power cuts

August 3, 2008

Question from Julie:

I am coming to Dakar for a 2 week vacation later this month, visiting a friend from home who’s been living there for 5 years. I heard there have been a lot of power cuts recently, and I am concerned, especially that sleeping at night without a fan or AC, and with a mosquito net, sounds pretty rough, especially given the season. Am I right to be worried? Is the power cut situation that bad?

Answer by Alex (Dakar expat):

Hey Julie – Well, if you want an honest answer, and assuming your friend does not have a power generator, the answer to both your questions is yes. The only ‘good thing’ is that so far, it hasn’t been as hot this season as it usually gets (still not cool by any means though…).

The electricity situation has been unbearable over the past few months. Cuts have easily exceeded 5-6 hour a day average, to such a point that we no longer point out when there is a cut, but rather when there is electricity. At least, that is the case in the Dakar area. I know that some places a bit further out (but still technically in the Dakar region), such as Thiaroye, are okay. Finally, they tend to rotate zones. For instance, I had terrible cuts for two months up until three weeks ago. The situation had gotten so bad that I decided to buy a power generator. Ever since I bought it, my zone has been ‘rotated’, and I’ve probably only used it for a total of 45 minutes (my neighbors find this very funny and keep thanking me for having ‘broken the curse’).

In case you’re interested in knowing why it’s been so bad, well, there are three reasons that people talk about. The first is that with the price of petrol, the national electricity company (Senelec) is no longer able to purchase enough petrol to stock up for demand. From my very limited understanding, the reason for that is that the price of electricity is limited by the government, but the government does not subsidize the electricity company enough to make up for it. The company therefore has no incentive to purchase enough petrol, because it runs an operational loss. The second factor is that one of the company’s main suppliers, a private power plant, had major technical issues. Finally, the rumor has it, but I don’t really believe in it, that a group very close to power wants to privatize and buy the company, and are therefore trying to bring its value down as much as possible.

Finally, fyi, there are some cheap and good second hand power generators, starting at 150 euros, which are sufficiant for a frige, a tv, and a couple of fans (not A/C though). Your friend might want to look into that…


From → Energy

  1. Julie permalink

    Alex, thanks so much for that amazing answer – I really learned a lot, and will be able to impress my friend with my ‘local knowledge’ 🙂 I am dreading the cuts though 😦

  2. Oh, Thanks! Really amazing. Big ups!

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