|The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has reiterated the need for stronger regional co-operation and integration to effectively harness West Africa’s energy resources for accelerated development.
The President said although the West African region is well-endowed with diverse energy resources to support her domestic, industrial and commercial needs, these resources are unevenly distributed.
He emphasised, however, that it is only through regional co-operation and integration of the regional electricity network, through power pooling and cross-border interconnection, that the benefits of electricity can be made available to a broad majority of the citizens of West Africa.
“We are fully aware that if we are to see West Africa prosper, a region that is able to turn its natural endowments into resources that will offer her people access to better education, improved healthcare, safe water and electricity, we should call on our experts, technical and financial partners gathered here this week, to come up with concrete proposals that will make regional integration, through a Regional Electricity Market, a reality,” he said.
The President made these remarks at the opening of the 12th General Assembly of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), in Accra on Friday.
He noted that the availability and use of electricity will greatly influence how rapidly West African countries are able to increase their agricultural and industrial productivity, provide safe drinking water, achieve rapid economic development, and employ information and communications technology to become increasingly integrated into the global marketplace.
This, he said, would require the needed investments into the energy sector to achieve the desired objectives.
According to him, the annual growth in demand for electricity is estimated at 10%, which means that for every seven years, investment in electricity infrastructure has to be doubled in most West African countries.
“Investment in the energy sector has been termed as impact investment, in that it ensures the delivery of financial and social returns that have the potential to address important challenges, such as reduction of poverty and improvement of the lives of people”, he noted.
He noted further that while the West African region has made some strides to resolve the regulatory and political barriers constraining investment in electricity supply and inadequate infrastructure along the electricity value chain, the region needs more political will and a more coordinative regional effort to see sustainable results.
“We must fundamentally realign our energy systems to achieve a unified system. WAPP has what it takes, in terms of capacity and capability, to create the Regional Electricity Market. This is the surest way to harness the abundant energy resources in the region to accelerate the socio-economic development of the region and improve the living standards of our people. We must travel down this road. Alongside the risks, this is a moment of great opportunity for WAPP and West Africa”, he said.
He said it is for this reason that Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, through the Supplementary Act A/SA4/01/08, decided that most of the regional power generation facilities should be developed by WAPP, through special-purpose vehicles under the PPP framework.
The 450MW WAPP Regional Thermal Generation Plants at Aboadze in Ghana, and Maria Gleta in Benin, are being developed within this framework, with the successes of these projects going a long way to boost investor confidence and attract more private sector capital into other WAPP Projects.
He was convinced that the agreement amongst West African countries to integrate our electricity network for the region’s development and economic take-off will engender strong synergies and significant complementarities.
“The outcome of the integration should be an electricity system in which uninterrupted supply is the expectation, rather than the exception”, he noted.