The Executive Board of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), have met in Ghana’s capital city, Accra to deliberate on how to fast truck   the regional co-operation and integration of the regional electricity network, through power pooling and cross border interconnectivity.

The meeting, which is the 12th General Assembly of WAPP, seeks to benefit broad majority of West African citizens through the availability of affordable electricity.

Delivering his keynote address at the opening ceremony, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo said it was a privilege that Ghana was entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that West Africa and beyond converged in the country “to a discourse on the Regional Electricity Market, as a means of achieving a fundamental goal of my government – the integration of West Africa.”

According to President Akufo-Addo, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) continues to be “peripheral to the lives of most West Africans” as the European Union (EU) is central to the lives of most Europeans.

The President noted that it was inspiring  that regional and continental integration were receiving the attention it rightfully deserve, disclosing  that the problems associated with the integration among West African countries over the years, has been leadership. “We need leadership that is focused on the region and not on individual countries”.

“The European Union took off because the political will to make it work was there. Once the political will is evident, we can then work together to make out of ECOWAS a true regional community and market”, the president stated.

 The West Africa region, President Akufo-Addo said, is well-endowed with diverse energy resources to support domestic, industrial and commercial uses that will eventually lead to the socio-economic development of the region.

The President continued, “These resources are, however, unevenly distributed, and it is through regional co-operation and integration of the regional electricity network, that the benefits of electricity can be made available to a broad majority of the citizens of West Africa.”

He added that producing reliable and affordable electricity was crucial to the development of the Region.

“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”, President Akufo-Addo disclosed.

President Akufo-Addo said if the governance style of leaders in West African countries could ever been impactful and meaningful, then it would be the provision of electricity power to support the industrialisation agenda.

He added “the President of the African Development Bank, the highly respected Akinwumi Adesina, is quoted as saying that “If African leaders want power, they must provide power.”

“The delivery of stable, affordable power is critical to the success of our efforts towards the development of West Africa. Since 2000, economic growth in West Africa has been rapid, and so has electricity consumption.

President Akufo-Addo said the annual growth in demand for electricity in most African Countries was estimated at about 10 per cent.  This, he said, meant that, “for every 7 years, we need to double our investment in electricity infrastructure”.

Investment in the energy sector termed as “impact investment” 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.

Fortunately, in West Africa, President Akufo-Addo said through the ECOWAS Energy Protocol, “efforts have been made to resolve the regulatory and political barriers constraining investment in electricity supply, and inadequate infrastructure along the electricity value chain”. 

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 450 MW WAPP Regional Thermal Generation Plants at Aboadze in Ghana, and Maria Gleta in Benin, are being developed within this framework.

 The success of these projects, President Akufo-Addo noted, would go a long way to boost investor confidence and attract more private sector capital into other WAPP Projects.

As co-Chair of the Group of Advocates of Eminent Persons of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, President Akufo-Addo said he was aware of SDG 7, which requires that “we ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”

This, he said, was in sync with the ultimate objective of the regional power pool, which is to make affordable, reliable, sustainable modern energy services available to the citizens of West Africa.

President Akufo-Addo disclosed that, Ghana has been able, through the right regulatory, legal and commercial framework, to attract a lot of private sector players into the generation end of the business, adding “in the near future should be able to export its excess generation through the WAPP network to other countries.

The President said 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.”

Ghana’s Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, said the gathering of renowned expects in the electricity sector in West Africa, international funding agencies and the donor community are to address issues relating to the common enterprise of establishing a regional electricity market by 2019.

He said the theme for the 12th General Assembly, which is, “Regional electricity market-ensuring West Africa Integration” is in line with the vision of WAPP, which is to integrate the regional power systems into a unified regional electricity market with the expectation that such “mechanism would over the medium to long term ensure that citizens of members states have access to reliably and stable electricity supply.”

Both the African Development Bank and the World Bank, major financiers of the project re-affirmed their committed to partner WAPP to completing the project by 2019.

Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)