By Edoamaowo Udeme, Abuja.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has said that it will commence cross-border sales of electricity from one West African country to the other in 2020,
This was made known at ECOWAS Secreteriat Abuja, yesterday, by Professor Honoré Bogler, The Chairman, Regulatory Council of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA), during the 82nd Ordinary session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, where the three-man council was sworn in.
Bogler said mechanisms have been put in place to ensure the full protection of the interest of the common man in the West African sub-region as the sale of the commodity begins next year.
He stressed that huge investments are required in the areas of infrastructural provision as the region does not have such funds readily available.
“the regional power regulatory body would not shirk its responsibility of repositioning the power sector for the benefit of the majority of the people of the sub-region’.
“No country in the sub-region has the funds to get electricity to every home in the West African region, that’s why the Heads of States decided to create a market power pool so that all the potentialities we have in the region, oil, gas, sun, wind, we have so many potentialities but what we are lacking is the funds to get these resources working for the population”.
“This is the reason the Heads of State decided to put all these potentialities together, to be pooled together and used in solidarity so that the huge population of the sub-region would be an attraction for the investors, and of course, once the investors realise that the electricity that would be produced would be used up by the huge population”.
Bogler gave the assurance that the people of the region would not be left at the mercy of the operators as the issue of tariff, among others would be a priority of the regulatory council,
“The mandate of ERERA is to be link between all the stakeholders, supervise the functioning of the market to be put in place and arbitrate any dispute arising from the arrangement between the operators”.
“The aim is to have a power market, working with commercial rules that will be sustainable, we think that way the people will have the best price of electricity because we will use the regional resources that are cheaper to feed our network. ERERA will monitor and supervise all these to get it running in organized manner”.
“By 2020, the region will be ready for transmission of power from one country to the other. Once that is achieved, we will go into the phase of the plan whereby all the countries in the region would have the opportunity of buying electricity from the market through the regional lines”.
“The implication of all of these is that since we are entering into the real commercial phase of the project, all stakeholders must know that there is regional regulator of the trans-border electricity trade”.
“Consequently, the stakeholder must realise that there is somebody that twill work for the interest of everyone, one that will not act in favour of anyone”.
“If we want electricity for all, we must invest in the sector but we all know that all the countries of the sub-region are going through electricity challenges, which means that we don’t have enough electricity produced in the region. We don’t also have the lines for transmission from one country to the other over the borders even if we have the electricity generated.
“These requires huge investment which we don’t have now, but these are the investments we want to attract and we are optimistic because we have a big market due to our population and since the investors want returns on their investments, they will come,” he added.
Also at the event, Dr Haliru Dikko, a member of the regulatory council said the scheme will be a success considering the determination of the regional political leaders to provide an enabling environment for would-be investors and their investments.
“The political will has been demonstrated by the leaders of all the West African countries which are coming in two folds”.
“The incoming investors need the guarantee that their investments would be safe and secured and the leaders have assured that these would be guaranteed and get their returns in terms of tariffs, safety of their assets and they would be given appropriate rights of what is expected of them to stay”.
“It was for this reason that the West African sub-regional market was able to attract investments from the World Bank, African Development Bank and other multilateral and multinational investing public,” Dikko added.