ECOWAS meeting on electricity opens in Banjul

ECOWAS20 November 2013, Banjul – he Fourth Consultative Committees’ meeting of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) is scheduled to kick-off today in Banjul with stakeholders seeking to “fast-track the ECOWAS regional electricity market”.

Spearheaded by the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA), today’s meeting was preceded by a daylong technical meeting that set the agenda of the two-day fourth consultative summit.

The forum, among other things, is designed to promote cooperation and exchange of information amongst the regulatory bodies of ECOWAS member states. It also serves as a platform for discussions by regulators and all other stakeholders in the electricity sector in West Africa.

The forum further reflects the uppermost concern of ERERA, that regulation is central to the development process of the regional electricity market. Thus, today’s forum is expected to bring together, stakeholders from the energy sector of ECOWAS member states including ministries in-charge of energy and finance, national regulatory authorities, utility companies, parliamentarians, academics, researchers, consumer groups and other civil society organisations.

In his remarks at Tuesday’s technical meeting, the director general of the Gambia’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA), Abdou Jobe, underscored the importance of the meeting, and assured the delegates of the commitment of the Gambia government to the principles of effective, proactive and supportive utility regulation. “As regulators, we would ultimately have to make the tough decision that can be critical especially concerning tariffs, which in our region with its high poverty rates, can have larger socio-economic consequences,” he said.

Jobe however noted that this should not make them avert the need to have cost reflective tariffs as that, in his view, is what would attract the badly needed true investment. He described today’s consultative meeting as a very important one in their quest to exploit their regional energy resources of which there is no scarcity in diversity and quantity. “As a preparatory event to today’s forum, I would request that we pay particular attention to the agenda especially on the directive on organisation of the regional market and the launch of the consumers’ committee,” he urged.

The PURA DG used the opportunity to underscore the importance of working together both as regulators and operators, for that in his view, is critical in the collective drive to achieving their objectives. Given that they are all faced with the same fundamental issue – how to provide electricity to their people in an era of high economic growth -, Jobe stressed that there is therefore no point trying to build their electricity infrastructure individually. He said the example of Europe shows how very high reliability and adequacy of supply can be secured if nations come together.

The director of Economics and Finance at PURA, Ansumana Sanneh, said the annual meeting creates the platform to come together under the auspices of ERERA to discuss issues pertaining to energy regulations in the sub-region as well as to come up with recommendations on how to tackle the challenges besetting the sub-regional market. The cooperate planner at the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC), Demba Jallow, said the forum would enable them share experiences and learn from each other. “We hope that the forum will help further to integrate regional electricity market,” he added.

– The Daily Observer

About the Author