“West Africa: hungry for power”

West African Power leaders gathered in Lagos for the West Africa Power 2015 Summit

The inaugural West Africa Power 2015 Summit, organised by global Summits organiser IRN, was held recently, on 16-17 June, in Lagos, with the aim to discuss the challenges and possible solutions to improving the electricity generation and supply in the West African region, and how to attract more investment.

The Minister of Energy and Petroleum of Niger, Honourable Foumakoye Gado; and the Energy Director of Ministry of Mines and Energy of Togo, Tcharabalo Abiyou, gave an overview of the energy situation in West Africa and shared exclusive insights about the untapped potential of Niger and Togo and the investment opportunities in these countries.

Over two days, the power leaders presented the industry’s new projects and latest integration initiatives to investors, with the aim to build confidence and eventually boost regional economy. However, industry experts agreed at the meeting that the lack of electricity is a hindrance to West Africa’s advancement, with access to electricity still too low.

After strongly opening his talk affirming that “West African countries are hungry for power now”, Barth Nnaji, Nigeria’s former Power Minister, detailed the latest electricity initiatives in West Africa – and more particularly in Nigeria. Among the most notorious new projects are a reform of the whole sector, the creation of a regional grid by the West African Power Pool (WAPP), as well as the development of a gas pipeline and the improvement of tariffs and countries’ response to attract investors. He added that the integration is coming along, although pooling power is not immediately possible as members are not producing power at the same levels.

From a private sector perspective, Dr. Ransome Owan, Pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and now Group Managing Director of Aiteo Power Group, explained that the 2005 reform has been successful but advised Nigeria to continue on the path of privatization. He stressed the importance of “fixing the weakest links, such as gas supply for power transmission, distribution, financial engineering, metering, billing and collection”. Owan however cautioned against instability in government’s strategy which he identified as the major challenge facing the power and energy sector.

Additionally, Ifey Ikeonu, Council Member of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA) in Ghana told the attendees that sustainability and regional integration are the emerging trends in the industry.

Amongst the companies that attended the Summit were Aiteo Power Group, Barclays Africa, Bryanston Resources, Communauté Électrique du Benin (CEB), Damco, DAWN Commission, ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA), Egbin Power, Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Enugu Electricity Distribution, Genus Power Infrastructure, Geometric Power, Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, Ikeja Electric, Julius Berger Nigeria, Lagos State Government, Lucy Electric, MAN Diesel & Turbo, Manitoba Hydro International, Ministry of Energy and Petroleum of Niger, Ministry of Energy and Petroleum of Ghana, Ministry of Mines and Energy of Togo, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Peonus Consultants, Rack Centre, Siemens, Simba Industries, Stellarvera Development, the Nigerian Institution of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, Throttle Energy, Trevari Power, West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo), WAPP Transco CLSG and more.

Senior level delegates stated that the ‘Summit could not have come at a better time’. They claimed it to be ‘exploratory and rewarding’, ‘very relevant’, ‘knowledge based and with innovative ideas’ as well as an ‘avenue for synergy’. They stated there were ‘good quality of speakers, informative presentations and ideal networking opportunities.’ Some also expressed that the event ‘gave [them] more confidence in [their] interconnection project’ and was ‘simply the best in terms of added-value’.

The meeting was endorsed by the Federal Ministry of Power of Nigeria and sponsored by Siemens, Throttle Energy, DAMCO, Manitoba Hydro International, Lucy Electric, Rack Centre, Simba Industries and Proton Security Services. Official supporters included Geometric Power, the Africa Gas Association, the Nigerian-German Business Association, the Energy Institute and the Alliance for Rural Electrification.

More information about the Summit is available on the website www.westafricasummit.com or upon subscription to IRN newsletter (click here).

The official Twitter hashtag to join the discussion is #WAPower.

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