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Energy conversion in Bamako (Mali) : the request of flexibility

Gazull L.. 2009. In : International Roundtable, Conference 'Cities and energy transitions: past, present, future', Autun, France, 1 - 4, June 2009. s.l. : s.n., 19 p.. International Roundtable, Conference 'Cities and energy transitions: past, present, future', 2009-06-01/2009-06-04, Autun (France).

Since the mid -1970s, Sahelian countries are involved in energy policies which aim to substitute traditional energies (wood and charcoal) to modern fuels derived from petroleum. In Bamako (Mali), as in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) or N'Djamena (Chad), in spite of political incentives by governments in favour of fossil fuels, urban dwellers progress very slowly on the "energy ladder". Woodfuels are still the most preferred energy sources. This paper analyses the reasons of this conversion failure in the Malian capital, focusing on the preferences of the Bamakois, the incentives from the Malian government, and finally the resistance of the woodfuel market. Experience with Household Energy Policies in Mali shows that economic realism and government incentives will not persuade people to accept new fuels or new stoves. It shows also that woodfuel supply chains are alive and can react very quickly to any attempt of changes, to remain in force, and to offer urban dwellers a good energy service in terms of access and prices. Finally the analysis of Bamako's case shows that the choice of an energy portfolio is more important than a single efficient, modern and cheap source. In spite of the equivalent cost for using gas and charcoal, the more well-off people in Bamako continue to prefer woody fuels. This consumption pattern gives the people of Bamako an energy independence, which allows them not to be subjected too severely neither to marked rises in petroleum prices, nor to supply interruption. The freedom of choice is an amplified demand in urban area where the diversity in the rhythms of life and the large range of buyable foods involve the diversity of cooking habits. The request of flexibility is certainly one the reason of the failure of most conversion programmes.

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