Haiti; Towards the construction of a national electric network

On the day he took up office, the new Haitian president Jovenel Moïse made the ambitious promise to electrify the entire country 24 hours a day. The challenge is all the more daunting in a country where only 37% of the population has access to electricity, and where the link between energy, productive sectors and the socioeconomic dynamic of the country is missing. Yet Haiti has at its disposal a wide range of options to develop a proliferous energy industry thanks to its great potential in solar energy, hydro-electricity and its significant wind resources. Making use of these natural resources, expanding the energetic coverage in the unserved zones and ensuring the stability, security and reliability of the system are the tasks that the government and private investors need to perform.

Created in 1971, the national provider of electricity Électricité d’Haïti (EDH) has the mandate to produce, transport, distribute and commercialise electricity throughout the national territory.

The executive director Hervé Pierre- Louis talks about the progress made by EDH in the recent years: “By insisting on the recuperation and optimisation of the hydroelectric infrastructures we have been able to produce at a lower cost and expand electric power supply to other cities and rural areas”.

As he explains, the performance indicators are improving and EDH is without a doubt on the right track. Previously stagnating at 270 million Haitian gourdes, the overall revenues for the metropolitan area are now close to 350 million Haitian gourdes ($5.2 million U.S. Dollars). The entrepreneur links these improvements to the rigour and discipline of his employees but also, and foremost, to EDH’s communication strategy: “My leadership involved communicating with the directors, staff and customers” he argues before adding: “We have shown that conveying the right message to the population has brought about a change in their behaviour and a subsequent improvement in our results”.

Mr. Pierre-Louis applauds the government’s promise of electrifying the country 24 hours a day by 2020. However, he highlights that this laudable goal requires a concerted effort and will only be possible with infrastructures, “The private sector needs to make efforts and start taking risks to dig Haiti out from his deficit, we need to deliver a high-quality service in line with the dignity of Haitian people.”– the executive explains.

Given that the current production capacity is not able to satisfy the national demand, Haiti needs to increase its production in order to deliver basic services such as access to electricity and simultaneously foster the country’s economic growth.

“Électricité d’Haïti has the mandate to produce, transport, distribute and commercialize electricity throughout the country.”

When asked about the major challenges encountered by EDH, the entrepreneur underlined the non-payment of bills as a serious concern. Changing the mentality and people’s habits is key to overcome this problem. Mr. Pierre-Louis and his team are planning to hold a Forum that would bring together the public institutions with the aim of encouraging them to make credit available to pay for the electricity, “Autonomous institutions, private sector, government bodies need to learn good habits and include a part of their budget for the electric Bill”. – the team argues.

“Private investors are awaited in Haiti to help create jobs.”

Strategically, EDH focuses on pilot projects and on the communication to bring about this desired behaviour’s change and ensure the continuity of service.

In accordance with a decree signed on 3 February 2016, the production, distribution and commercialisation of electricity are no longer the monopoly of EDH. In this context, foreign and national investors are expected to develop the energy industry in Haiti. “By its geographic proximity and large Haitian diaspora living in its territory, the United States are a strategic partner for our company and Haiti in general.” -affirms Mr. Pierre- Louis before announcing the launching of a new online payment system through which the diaspora will be able to pay the electric bills of their relatives. “The diaspora needs to contribute now that the sector is open. We expect them to support their countrymen”.

The president’s promises and the progress in the energy sector have brought a glimmer of hope to the future of the Haitian population. Private investors are awaited in Haiti to help revitalising the economy and create jobs. Improving the living conditions of Haitians is a mandatory step for the development of the Caribbean country.