ECOWAS to develop robust energy market

Praia, 26 October 2016 – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency with its agencies and partners are to develop a robust regional energy market. The Energy market is to increase access to modern and sustainable energy services in West Africa.

Ghana, like many other African countries, is wallowing in power crisis as demand continues to outstrip supply. About 57 percent of the continent’s population still remains without access to electricity, which in turn hinders economic development. The power situation in Africa is also seen as one of the main obstacles preventing it from reaching its full potential.

Despite a huge potential, the energy sector in Africa is characterized by inefficiency, and below-cost pricing limits necessary for investment, energy insecurity and heavy reliance on biomass.

The event was organized by the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), under the theme: ‘towards a viable and robust energy market in the ECOWAS region, in collaboration with the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority, the West Africa Power Pool, the West Africa Gas Pipeline Authority and the Department for Energy and Mines of the ECOWAS Commission. It was also supported by development partners, including the European Union, United States Agency for International Development and the German Embassy, to promote the exchange of ideas and cooperation to support the acceleration of the implementation of a regional energy market.

Dr Morlaye Bangoura, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Energy and Mines, who announced this meeting, was speaking at the opening of a three-day ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Week in Accra. He said the event was to improve the current policy and regulatory landscape for a sustainable regional energy sector among the 15 ECOWAS countries. The conference would, therefore, facilitate interactions and forge partnerships between ECOWAS policy makers, the private sector and financial institutions.

 “The gravitation towards a regional solution to the energy security challenges facing the region is borne out of the capital-intensive nature of energy projects and the fact regional cooperation could help address the region’s uneven distribution of energy sources and increase cross-boundary electricity trade.”

According to ECOWAS, renewable energy is taking centre stage with large scale solar playing an important role. Also, decline in solar technology costs, coupled with vast resources, is making it a technology of choice in the region

Mr. John Jinapor, the Deputy Minister of Power, commended the ECOWAS Commission and its agencies for the efforts to promote and improve on the energy situation on the continent. He called on the Commission to include the private sector in its deliberations, since they played a pivotal role in the development and accessibility of energy. He said the Government was committed to the implementation of energy policies and it would continue to support the Commission in its activities.

Dr. Daniel Schrith, the Sustainable Energy for All Africa Hub Coordinator at the African Development Bank, also commended the leadership of ECOWAS and its partners for promoting access to energy in the Sub-region. He said the Bank was committed to championing the development of energy on the continent of Africa with the investment of 12 billion dollars from 2016-2020 in the energy sector. He also said the Bank looked forward to transforming the ambitious energy agenda of the continent in the next years.

Mr. Alexandra Deprez, the Mission Director, USAID, West Africa, said the importance of clean energy generation was increasing by the day in the light of climate change challenges. He said clean energy stood at the Centre of global efforts to move towards sustainable and resilient economies and poverty eradication. The Mission Director said clean energy technologies were recognized as important supply options and key resources for bridging the universal energy demand gap.