ECOWAS energy institutions and agencies have held a two-day coordination meeting in Accra to consider the status of energy delivery in West Africa.
The meeting, which is the seventh coordination meeting of ECOWAS energy agencies and institutions, was hosted by the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA).
It received updates on the status of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Market over, which there has been increased activities, preparatory to the launch of the second phase.
In addition, it considered the state of implementation of priority projects of the ECOWAS Master Plan 2019 to 2033, the emergency power supply programme as well as the project construction of the WAPP-ICC (West African Power Pool Information and Coordination Centre) which is based in Calavi near Cotonou in Benin.
The ICC will serve as the Systems Operator and Market Operator of the Regional Electricity Market.
Mr Douka Sediko, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Energy and Mines, in his remarks said: “Today, the issue of load shedding resurfaces in our region with major countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast which are experiencing structural deficits and which have no other alternative than to ration the supply of energy to consumers.”
“It is, therefore, important for us to also work on accelerating the steps to make the region’s electricity market operational so that regular and significant electricity exchanges between our States can begin to strengthen their energy security.”
He noted that there were significant challenges in the energy sector in the region, and called for the implementation of priority projects of WEAP and accelerate the operationalization of regional regulation in the electricity sector.
“Others are to pursue the development of the gas market and the promotion of renewable energies and increase the population’s access to clean energy services.”
Mr Sediko said it was also important for ECOWAS to improve the governance of the sector and put particular emphasis on the proper execution of projects financed by donors in order to attract more and more funding for the region.
He said ERERA, the agency coordination meeting was a platform established to allow all ECOWAS entities in charge of energy to meet at least once a year, to review the actions carried out, to discuss difficulties encountered, to propose collective solutions for the advancement of our activities, and to maintain a perfect synergy.
“Without making an exhaustive assessment of the coordination meetings already carried out, it should be noted with satisfaction their impact on improving communication between the various stakeholders, improving coordination and synergy of action,” he said.
“Moreover, this platform allowed the birth of bilateral consultations between entities to resolve specific problems, if necessary.”
Mr Sediko said the challenges of the energy sector were still numerous and had been aggravated by the global health crisis of COVID-19, which had delayed the implementation of many projects essential for improving access of populations to electricity.
“In this circumstance, it is imperative for us, considering the financial constraints of our States and of the governing bodies of our Institutions, to be able to strengthen synergy and federate our efforts with a view to achieving economies of scale where possible, the development of the energy sector in the region,” the Commissioner said.
“We must, therefore, continue and intensify the search for funding from donors and increasingly offer physical infrastructure projects that make it possible to really address the daily difficulties of our populations,” he added.