The SM3E service concession holder has been selected for the construction of a rural hydroelectric grid in the city of Tolongoina in Madagascar, in the frame of GRET’s Rhyviere Project. As the project is ending, SM3E’s director discusses the progress of the grid development within the municipality.
In Touch: How interesting is it to create a system of hydroelectric network in Tolongoina?
François de Salle Rasamimanana: Our experience in Madagascar has shown the limits of electricity generated through thermal power: problems of fuel supply, very high prices for subpar services, inability to control consumption, theft of equipment. Hydroelectricity requires a capital-intensive start-up investment, but prices get lower over time. Everyone knows that renewable energies offer a beacon of hope for the future of Madagascar, as they enable to distribute power more widely. In the context of Tolongoina where water resources are available, this solution turns out to be particularly relevant.
IT: Why did you respond to the tender when the town was looking for a delegate?
FDS: this contract offered huge opportunities, not only in terms of market share but also in terms of training and research. Actually I am an academic, and I teach in two bachelor-degree programmes, including one in renewable energies. Through the project we were able to welcome interns from the university, and therefore, to train the future leaders of this technology in Madagascar. In addition, this experiment has enriched our research on hydropower. We are delighted with this opportunity offered by GRET’s project.
IT: What impact have you already seen in the area and what are the challenges ahead?
FDS: Access to electricity in the area has opened up opportunities for the locals. We have been receiving increasing numbers of one-off requests for electricity, to create economic activities such as sawmills, husking plants or welding companies. To this end, challenges remain, such as the establishment of the second turbine as soon as possible to meet this demand. For the moment, we have tested the network before starting the subscriptions that we intend to launch in June. Currently we have 150 subscribers and thesystem can cover the needs of 380 households. Besides, access to the network facilitates the socio-economic development of the municipality.
With contributions from M. Andriamasomanalina Rivoarivelo, CEO and Mme Randriamanantany Zely, shareholder of SM3E.