Buhari, ECOWAS decry power deficits for 350m inhabitants

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• Seek Cooperation For WAPP’s $36.4billion Plan, Economic Growth
President Muhammadu Buhari and stakeholders from across the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), yesterday in Abuja, insisted that unless the region improved current synergy, over 350 million inhabitants might continue to feel the implications of the region’s prevailing power challenge.

Calling for support to achieve the objectives of the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP), the stakeholders who decried the impact of electricity deficit in the region, said there was need to achieve the regions $36.4 billion integration.WAPP, a specialised agency that is expected to integrate national power systems in the region into a unified regional electricity market, aimed at providing in the medium and long term, regular and reliable energy at a competitive cost to the region.

Speaking at the 14th session of WAPP General Assembly focusing on “ECOWAS Regional Electricity Market: Today and Future Opportunities, Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to the Federation, Boss Mustapha, acknowledged that countries with improved electricity access, would continue to lead in terms of industrial and economic development.He, therefore, tasked ECOWAS countries to harness, develop and share energy resources with the primary objectives of improving access to steady and affordable electricity.

Buhari said: “The huge potential for electricity generation within the region still remains underdeveloped.  These are clearly indicated by human development indexes, it is therefore important that WAPP progresses in the direction of incorporating the countries and developing the energy resources available across the region towards achieving the objectives of reliable and affordable electricity for all citizens.

“This must be supported by all. I therefore charge you all to focus on the current reality and bridge the gap in the region.“Considering that lack of power undermines investment, employment creation and economic growth, costing Africa about four per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year, urged the countries to explore energy resources in manner that would align with global climate change agenda.”
  
Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, who was also at the event, said the country is advancing on projects that would increase regional integration as well as cross-border power trade.“I have no doubt that within the shortest possible time, precisely 2020 when the WAPP Information and Coordination Centre (ICC) is expected to be completed, the second phase of the electricity market will be launched,” Mamman said, while providing details of some of the projects.

Chairman of WAPP, Usman Muhammed, said there was need for the region to build new transmission interconnections primarily to increase wheeling capacity and provide needed redundancies for security and stability of the pool.Disclosing that the 15 Stages of ECOWAS regional market was launched by both ERARA and WAPP last year, Muhammed said there was need to sustain the gains of Phase One already achieved, considering the plan to launch the Phase Two in 2021.

“The second stage shall signal the commencement of day ahead trading which will replace the bilateral contracting of Stage one. For a seamless transition to Stage two, we must build confidence into the market in a way that the market can attract the much-needed private investment.

“It is only private investment that can guarantee our objective of creating a sustainable electricity market that will provide efficient and affordable electricity to the citizens of West Africa,” he said.Muhammed said it was important that the three directives approved together with the 2019-2033 ECOWAS generation are met.According to him, while West Africa has a population of over 350 million inhabitants, more than 40 percent of the people lack access to electricity, adding that electricity consumption per capita in the region is one of the lowest in the world.

The Guardian

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