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Comparative financial analysis of electricity utilities in West Africa

Fritsch, Rémi
Energy policy 2011 v.39 no.10 pp. 6055-6064
assets, capital, debt, electricity, equations, funding, oils, people, production costs, sales, tariffs, taxes, Western Africa
Access to electricity is a major issue in West Africa. Governments have a difficult equation to solve. They naturally seek to offer their people a cheap kWh. But they are constrained by a production based largely on oil and therefore highly volatile production costs. How to fix an acceptable tariff, taking into account the investment needs required to expand the network and increase production? This analysis should provide some answers. The study presented in this paper provides a financial analysis of electricity utilities in West Africa. It allows a comparison of performances on a number of key financial ratios related to operations (Earning Before Interest Taxes Debt and Amortization/sales, working capital requirement/sales, days of receivables or payables), investment (net fixed assets/gross fixed assets), bank financing (financial structure, debt/EBITDA, interest expense/EBITDA) and economic and financial returns (Return On Capital Employed, Return On Equity). The conclusion focuses on the growth opportunity that the electricity sector could represent for each country. But this opportunity may only materialize if the EBITDA margins are restored. The available options appear limited and must be assessed taking into account the context of each country: tariff increase, improvement of technical losses or diversification into means of production no longer based primarily on oil or gas.