Power outages in Ivory Coast devastate industry

Ivory Coast is dealing with major power outages that are devastating local businesses, and cutting supplies to neighboring countries.

In its capital Abidjan, Fashion designer Ambroise Mandela is struggling to make garments in time for Eid, as his factory's machines stop sewing:

"It gives us insomnia given the promises we have made to the clients and that we cannot honor our promises because of the power cuts which are getting very difficult.

A little while away, fishmonger Cedric is facing similar problems:

"If this goes on for 2 or 3 days, it will be a real loss for us because these are fresh produce and we need power to preserve them."

Ivory Coast is also one of the world's biggest cocoa producers.

And outages have led to complaints from the sector, which depends on a steady power supply for its grinding machines.

A prolonged dry season has reduced water levels at hydropower dams in both Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday (May 7) Ivory Coast’s Energy Minister Thomas Camera said the national power company had been forced to use reserve water from its reservoirs to keep hydropower plants going.

He said the country would have to reduce the amount of electricity it exports to secure supplies.

Ivory Coast exports power to six countries, including Mali.

A spokesman for the energy ministry there told Reuters that electricity imports from Ivory Coast had fallen 30%, causing repeated outages.

In Ghana, which exports to Burkina Faso, the national utility is also carrying out rolling outages until May 17.

Camera said the situation would return to normal around July.