Increasing electricity access in West Africa will only be possible if nations look beyond national barriers in addressing the challenges facing the electricity sector.
Mrs Ifey Ikeonu, the Legal Council Member of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA), Ghana, has said in an interview that the biggest challenge facing the region is that of bridging the gap between electricity supply and demand.
“With average access rate to electricity in the region being about 30 per cent, there is a very huge gap that requires a lot of proactive and innovative solutions if we are to meet the Sustainable Energy for All goal of providing universal access to electricity by the year 2030,” she said.
She added that the West Africa region is blessed with an abundance of natural and renewable resources and the onus is on governments to articulate the right strategies that will attract the required financial resources needed to put in place power infrastructure across board, leveraging on the resources within the region, to rapidly improve access to electricity.
Mrs Ikeonu spoke ahead of the West African Powering Industry Convention (WAPIC) that will be held in Lagos, Nigeria in November where she is expected to address delegates on “Improving regulatory performance through benchmarking” during the session on regulatory frameworks and policies.
According to Mrs Ikeonu, ERERA is currently putting in place the building blocks for the off-take of the ECOWAS regional electricity market.
The authority has already finalized the Regional Market Rules which will soon be adopted by the ERERA Regulatory Council following the conclusion of the tariff methodology for the regional transmission tariffs.
ERERA is also working on the development of the contractual templates for cross-border electricity trading in the region.
“The adoption of all of these regulatory tools will signal the commencement of the first phase of the regional market and I am eager to see this in place as soon as possible,” noted Mrs Ikeonu.
She added that some of the success stories of ERERA are helping countries that do not have electricity regulators in place establish independent regulatory authorities, something that will go a long way in improving quality of service to consumer and also help in attracting investment to boost availability of supply. So far, ERERA has worked with the governments of Guinea and Sierra-Leone on this initiative.