ECOWAS nations seek $26bn for regional electricity

ECOWAS23 November 2013, Abuja – Member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are planning to raise about $26.416 billion for the completion of various critical electricity generation and transmission projects under its West African Power Pool (WAPP) framework.

The projects include the proposed 7,092 megawatts (MW) hydropower, 2,375MW thermal and 800MW renewable power generation mixes and a 16,000km length transmission line that would interconnect all the West African countries to the regional power pool by 2018.

This proposal was contained in the revised ECOWAS electricity generation and transmission master plan, which was presented to member countries of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authorities (ERERA) at its fourth regional meeting in Banjul, capital of the Gambia.

The plan seeks to amongst other options sort the participation of private sector investors in the region’s ambitious plan to vertically connect its member countries in its shared power pool.

An update on the progress of the electricity interconnection plan which was provided by the Director, Information and Control Center (ICC) of the WAPP, Babatunde Adeyemo, at Banjul indicated that while the regional body had made inroads in some of its priority transmission projects, it equally plans to add about 7,170MW to its existing power pool and interconnect at least 14 of its member countries by 2017.

Some of power generation projects listed by Adeyemo as WAPP’s expected sources of additional generation capacity include: Felou (Mali) 60MW, Maria Gleta (Benin) 450MW-WAPP programme, Domunli (Ghana) 450MW-WAPP programme, Souapiti Hydro 515MW, Kassa ‘B’ hydro 118MW, Charbon (Senegal) 875MW and Sambangalou (Senegal/ Guinea) 433MW.
Others are Biu Hydro (Ghana) 600MW, NIPP (Nigeria) 3,000MW, Mount Coffee (Liberia) 66MW and Adjarala (CEB) 147MW.
Adeyemo noted that the revised plan was adopted by ECOWAS heads of state and government in February 2012 through a Supplementary Act.

In his presentation, Adeyemo said WAPP has adopted implementation models that include both traditional and regional models, which involves its project implementation unit coordinating activities in the various countries as well as the establishment of a single project implementation unit and Specific Purpose Company (SPC) to achieve its objectives.
On the funding arrangement for its projects, Adeyemo explained that sources of financing the projects will include finances for traditional lending institutions, public private partnership (PPP) arrangements, establishment of an ECOWAS regional fund that is dedicated to electricity projects as well as funding from power utilities of member countries.

He, however, emphasised the need to encourage private investor to buy into the regional power pool framework, adding that reflective tariff regime, reliable network, promotion of about seven per cent additional generation per year, implementation of transmission line using PPP model and regional transmission system will add to advance the overall goal of regional electricity framework.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has also asked WAPP to take a cue from other developed power pools across the world in its approach to its objectives.

Senior Financial Specialist and Task Team Leader of the World Bank, Fatouma Toure Ibrahima, stated in her presentation on improving access to electricity through regional electricity infrastructure projects that surplus generation capacity, political will to cooperate with neighbours as well as adequate physical infrastructure for interconnections remained critical to the success of WAPP’s goals.

Ibrahima said it was imperative to start and continue the electricity integration plans in view of the fact that regional electricity markets take long time to develop and as such, design, approach and phasing of regional electricity integration must be tailored to realities on the ground with room for adjustments as conditions change.

– Chineme Okafor

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