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ECOWAS priotises underdevelopment in West Africa




…Moves to set up electricity market

Plans are underway to arrest the perennial problem of underdevelopment as the Economic Communities Of West African States (ECOWAS) has unveiled its moves to address the lingering energy crises in West Africa, which has left the sub-region underdeveloped.

Speaking at the 7th Edition of the ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF2022) in Abuja, ECOWAS President, Omar Touray, said the organisation is ready to establish electricity market in West Africa where contractors can buy power to improve energy generation and industrialisation of the sub-region.

Dr. Touray, who was represented by ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation, SedikoDouka, said 50% of Africans have access to electricity, but less than 10% are accessible to those in the rural areas.

 “The ECOWAS Commission and its specialised energy agencies are working tirelessly to address these challenges. Our strategic objective is to integrate the operation of the community’s national power grids into a unified regional electricity market to ensure a stable, regular, and reliable supply of competitively priced electricity to the citizens of the ECOWAS Member States in the medium term. We plan to achieve this objective by promoting and developing power generation and transmission facilities and equipment and coordinating electricity trade among the ECOWAS Member States.

 “It is the reason that we launched the regional electricity market since June 2018 and the ECOWAS Statutory Bodies adopted a master plan for the per development of regional power generation and transmission infrastructure 2019-2033, aiming to generate 16000 MW and construct 23000 km interconnection electric lines. It is a portfolio of 75 regional projects amounting 37 billion USD. The generation will promote the utilisation of renewable energy and natural gas, very abundant in our region.

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Touray further added that: “The implementation of this master plan and the previous ones reaches a result where we have presently 13 countries interconnected; the remaining one country will be interconnected by the end of this year. Also, through the support of our traditional technical and financial partners, the WAPP Information and Coordination Centre (ICC) located in Cotonou, Benin, will be operational by the end of this year and will serve as the regional electricity market operator, i.e. a place where stakeholders can sell and buy electricity by next year the reason.”

He revealed that: “The ECOWAS Commission is also working on improving energy access for the ECOWAS rural population and actively promoting the deployment of off-grid energy solutions, such as clean energy mini-grids and stand-alone technologies.

“To this end, several regional projects are at the stage of implementation within the region. Our objective is to have an access consolidated rate of 70% by 2030.”

He said: “Following the adoption of the regional policies on renewable energy and energy efficiency by the authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in July 2013, which tasked the region to achieve ambitious targets by 2020 and 2030, this forum rightly affords us a significant opportunity as a region and stakeholders to take stock of progress to-date.

“The ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy aims to increase the share of renewable energy in the region’s overall electricity mix to 48% in 2030; and the ECOWAS Energy Efficiency Policy, aims to implement measures that free 2000 MW of power generation capacity and in the medium term, more than double the annual improvement in energy efficiency.”

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He however lamented that: “To date, only half of the ECOWAS citizens have access to modern energy services; hence they are consistently deprived of the full benefits of electricity for socio-economic development, which, if not addressed, would hinder the Region from achieving its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

He said: “That is why we launched the regional electricity market and will generate over 60,000 megawatts of electricity with over 23,000 distribution points.

“By next year ,we will have electricity market where contractors can buy electricity. “We are developing a new energy policy for the region that will be operational by June next year.”

The Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. YemiOsinbajo, in his opening remarks, explained that the Nigerian energy transition plan seeks to tackle the twin renewable energy issues; climate change and emissions.

Osinbajo, who was represented by Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Abubakar  Aliyu ,said: “Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan is a prime example of the needed evolution of policies to deliver both the growth in energy consumption necessary for development and the climate response required for the preservation of our planet. Our Energy Transition Plan seeks to tackle the dual crises of energy poverty and climate change, and deliver universal energy access (SDG7) by 2030 and net-zero by 2060. It is also a bolder articulation of our commitment to sustainability and renewables as earlier proposed in the Electricity Vision 30:30:30, which aims to provide 30GW of electricity by the year 2030 with renewable energy contributing at least 30% to the energy mix. While Nigeria led the charge in becoming the first African country to develop such a detailed Energy Transition Plan, we know the captured ambitions are not unique to us.”

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The Nigeria’s VP while commending Regional sustainable energy policies like the ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy (EREP) and the ECOWAS Energy Efficiency Policy (EEEP), said “recent global events reveal that we have another chance to determine the future of energy development and use within the West African Region, and I firmly believe this forum presents the opportunity to deepen our cooperation within the Region and Africa at large, to speak with one voice for our benefit at a time when energy issues are being renegotiated. As members of the West African community, we must understand our situations, properly identify our challenges, set our developmental goals, and determine the pathway for achieving them in a sustainable manner. This is a crucial time for us to collaborate as neighbours and work interdependently, leveraging on our cooperation and abundant energy resources to secure for ourselves and our children a sustainable energy market for socio-economic development of the Region. Africa must speak with one voice when it comes to energy and West Africa countries must see themselves as neighbours for economic and social and cultural development.”

Also speaking, the Ambassador of Spain to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Juan Ignacio Sell, stated that: “This gathering affords member countries to share ideas and create awareness on our quest to achieve the SDGs in West Africa.”

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