AfDB partners ECOWAS to boost subregional electricity market for sustainable development

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Canola plants blossom in a field beneath electricity pylons, as South African utility Eskom experiences frequent power outages, near Cape Town, South Africa, September 8, 2022. REUTERS/Esa Alexander
Source: REUTERS/Esa Alexander

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is partnering with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on a new project to formalise the subregional electricity market for sustainable economic development.

Entitled the “Regional Harmonization of Regulatory Frameworks and Tools for Improved Electricity Regulation in ECOWAS,” the project seeks to provide tools for harmonizing regulatory frameworks to facilitate the efficient and timely completion and utilization of regional energy infrastructure.

Speaking at the launching of the project in the Ghanaian capital on Thursday, Callixte Kambanda, Manager for Energy Policy, Regulation, and Statistics at AfDB, said the project is a 2.0-million-dollar technical assistance to the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulation Authority (ERERA) to develop tools and frameworks for harmonizing regulatory frameworks across the subregion.

He said similar support to the other subregional blocs would enable them to build their power markets and culminate in the African Single Electricity Market (AfSEM) initiative of the African Union Commission to integrate various regional markets into a continental power market and further boost electricity exchange.

“An integrated power market will help shape Africa’s energy transition pathway. This is because it will allow the sustainable and cost-effective exploitation of the diverse energy resources of the continent, especially renewable energy, in more endowed countries and shared with less endowed countries,” Kambanda stated.

The AfDB official stressed that “A consistent and coordinated approach to addressing key regional energy infrastructure deficits, particularly regional interconnections, supported by relevant institutional, policy and regulatory reforms at the regional level will help to achieve a fully integrated, competitive, and harmonized electricity market in Africa as envisaged under the AfSEM.”

In addition to the critical power interconnectors and other power infrastructure to boost cross-border power flow in Africa, Kambanda urged the continent’s leaders to recognize the importance of the soft infrastructure aspect, including policy, regulatory, and institutional frameworks.

Launching the project, Kocou Laurent Rodrigue Tossou, Chairman of ERERA, said the subregional body was taking pains to develop the electricity market due to its importance to economic growth and development.

“Our vision is to have a West Africa where electricity is not merely a commodity but a catalyst for sustainable development, economic growth, and improved livelihoods for residents of the ECOWAS area,” Tossou added.

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