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Preparation of an Indicative Least Cost Geospatial Electrification Plan to Achieve Universal Access in Benin

The project partners provided an ensemble team with expertise in open-source geospatial application development and training, electrification planning, and in-situ knowledge of the electrification industry in Benin. The result of the collaboration between the project partners, ESMAP and stakeholders and electrification practitioners in Benin is a least-cost electrification model for Benin, an SDI (Spatial Data Infrastructure) and an electrification modelling platform for visualizing the model results. This platform aims to facilitate the critical work taking place to support the meeting of the Sustainable Development Goal 7 which seeks to ensure that access to electricity is ubiquitous.


While Benin has benefited from regional import through the binational company owned by Togo and Benin (CEB) for several decades, the Government has focused on domestic generation to reduce dependency on imports and promote energy security. Government plans to add about 450 MW of domestic generation, which will include (i) the commissioning of a 120 MW public plant financed by the Islamic Development Bank initially to operate on HFO until gas becomes available (ii) a 146 MW IPP with private investment both plants located at Maria Gléta 2 to operate on gas and (iii) solar generation through independent power producers (IPPs). 

Some of the principle challenges facing Benin’s power sector are the precarious financial situation of SBEE, unreliable power imports, and severe outages. There are significant inefficiencies along the entire power sector value chain, in particular in the distribution sector. Commercial and technical losses are significant at about 23 percent. About 10 percent of SBEE’s billed amounts are uncollected in 2018, with the highest share coming from public facilities and other high-revenue customer segments, which significantly affects cash flow. Due to a lack of an operating budget, SBEE has been unable to provide electricity connection kits to expand an already long list of potential customers who have been waiting for an electricity connection. Illegal and unsafe electricity connections are rampant in high-density peri-urban areas of major urban centers—such as Cotonou, Porto-Novo, Abomey-Calavi, Parakou, and Natitingou. Recognizing these challenges, the Government has put forward an Action Plan that aims at increasing domestic generation capacity on an urgent basis to enhance energy security and improving the performance of the power distribution sub-sector.

However, an actionable plan to expand electricity access needs to be prepared to complement the Action Plan. Only about 30 percent of Benin’s households have access to electricity. This low rate, which is below Sub-Saharan Africa’s average electrification rate of 35 percent, also masks significant disparities between urban and rural areas. Fifty-six percent of the urban population has access to electricity, with the highest access rate in the coastal cities, such as Cotonou, and lower rates in medium urban centers where considerable proportions remain unconnected. Less than 7 percent of the rural population has access to electricity.

With low and unreliable electricity access, Benin’s energy sector is dominated by traditional biomass. The use of wood fuel and charcoal for cooking represents the highest share—49 percent—of the country’s energy balance. However, most of the wood fuel and charcoal is harvested/produced in an unsustainable manner to supply growing urban markets, which accelerates the decline of forest cover. On the demand side, the vast majority of households cook with wood fuel in inefficient and traditional stoves, leading to indoor air pollution, which negatively affects the health of mostly women and children. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) use has been limited by high refill costs of bottles (with recent reductions using subsidies), sporadic shortages, restricted distribution networks, and lack of consumer awareness.

The Minister of Energy therefore endeavors to develop a comprehensive plan for increasing electricity access in a sustainable manner. An essential pillar of this plan and the objective of this assignment will be a GIS least-cost electrification map that identifies the optimal route for electrification through grid expansion and off-grid services. This study will be used by the World Bank to advise the Government as it prepares its National Electrification Strategy (NES), currently under development as part of the Electricity Services Improvement Project (ESIP-P161015) in Benin.

Aim and objectives

The scope of work encompasses the preparation of a GIS database of relevant layers and a geospatial least-cost electrification plan for use by the World Bank to advise the Government of Benin as it prepares its National Electrification Strategy. The detailed geospatial analysis will consider, based on good practice and international experience, possible least-cost options for electrification, provide a sound strategic basis to implement systematically staged grid extensions and the deployment of off-grid technologies (mini-grids and standalone systems) powered by cost-effective renewable energy supply where appropriate, and indicative investment requirements for on-grid and off-grid access delivery modalities. Therefore, the analysis will provide valuable insights for the World Bank’s discussion with the aforementioned Government in its formulation of priorities for electrification. 

Project partners

Project partners: Kartoza, SNV Netherlands

Funding is provided by the World Bank/ESMAP.

Timeframe: 2020




  1. The results of the analysis can be explored on the Benin Electrification Platform:

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