For over a year in Conakry, the Guinean capital, and in several other major towns and rural areas in the country, habits have changed. Like many of her compatriots, Arama Sire Camara, a fruit and vegetable seller in the province of Kindia (135 km from Conakry) is now much more confident and happy carrying on her business day and night.
"With lighting on the road at night and illuminating our goods, it means we are safer, especially with all the cars on the road. You can work for longer after nightfall, and so we can make more of our products," she says.
With a river network of 6,250 km, Guinea has an estimated hydroelectric potential of 7,000 megawatts (MW), one of the most powerful on the continent. The country is taking advantage of this to improve popular access to electrical power, with the support of the African Development Bank.
Ousmane Sow is a welder based in the neighbourhood of Kindia whose business has also improved over time. "In the past, we had to use generators to do our work. Now, with continuous electricity supply, it is all much easier in the workshop", he says, delighted at the reduction in wasted time due to power cuts.
Arama and Ousmane are benefiting from the Rural Electrification Project, financed with $21 million by the African Development Bank, and implemented between 2011 and 2017. The project has helped to reduce losses in the renovated networks from 49% in 2010 to 15% in 2017 - less than the expected 20%. It has also helped to connect 30,000 new households and raise the rate of rural electrification from 3% in 2009 to 7% in 2017.
"The Bank's projects in the electricity sector have contributed to the improvement of living conditions by providing access to reliable electricity supplies for households, businesses and social service providers within the framework of the national electrification plan of Guinea", according to the authors of the summary review of Guinea's results for 2007-2018.
The review highlights the Bank's contribution to energy between 2007 and 2017 achieving "the expected outcomes". Indeed, the Bank's interventions have led to connecting or upgrading connections to the electricity grid of some 500,000 people, half of them women, creating or upgrading more than 300 km of electricity distribution lines and reducing CO2 emissions by 3,274 tonnes per year.
In addition, thanks to the project, since November 2017, 1.5 million inhabitants of 43 localities in Lower Guinea and Middle Guinea have now gained continuous access to electricity. The economies achieved by this project allowed a further 12 localities to be reached in addition to the 31 planned at the start.
The African Development Bank has been working with the Republic of Guinea since 1974. By 2 July 2019, the active portfolio of the Bank of Guinea comprised 18 operations with a commitment of $563 million. Meanwhile, the Bank's indicative programme of future commitments for the period 2019-2022 is $535 million, concentrated in the agriculture and energy sectors.