01 December 2013 – Participants at the just-concluded 4th Annual Forum of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority, ERERA, have declared that the domestic electricity markets of member states must be liberalised to enable the speedy development of the regional market.
The 160-plus forum participants, including regulators, operators and consumers in the electricity sector, also advised that in carrying out the reforms, key stakeholders should take cognisance of the factor of time, and be able to strike the right balance between the interests of political actors, investors, and consumers.
This year’s two-day Forum, with the theme, “Fast-tracking the regional electricity market: The regulatory issues’ ended on 21st November 2013, in Banjul, The Gambia. It was preceded by a day-long meeting of ERERA’s Consultative Committees, comprising operators and regulators in the member states.
The participants considered the place, roles and responsibilities of ERERA and the national regulators in speeding up the establishment of a regional electricity market in West Africa.
They also critically examined sub-themes such as the pre-requisites for establishing a regional power market, regional electricity market design and rules, funding mechanisms and regional power infrastructure development, network access and tariff-setting for transmission, as well as best contractual practices and conflict resolution methods.
They specifically called for the deepening of solidarity in the regional energy sector, through the development of interconnections and cross-border electricity trade.
They also recommended a better understanding and application of the conditions of access to funding, even while noting the need for countries and operators to meet the minimum requirements, to ensure the success of projects embarked on.
Furthermore, they stressed the need for the development of the capacity of regulatory authorities in West Africa, in the area of contractual and financial arrangements.
In addition, they called for the strengthening of the mastery of the relevant areas for trade development, such as transmission pricing.
The participants were drawn from the energy sector of ECOWAS Member States, including the ministries in charge of Energy and Finance, national regulatory authorities, utility companies, parliamentarians, academics, researchers, consumer groups and other civil society organisations.
Representatives of banks and financial institutions, regional and international institutions, as well as development partners, were also in attendance at the Forum.
ERERA Forums are designed to promote cooperation and exchange of information amongst the regulatory bodies of ECOWAS Member States, as well as between regulators, operators, consumers, and other stakeholders in the electricity sector in West Africa.
The theme of the 4th Forum reflects ERERA’s concern that regulation is central to the development process of the regional electricity market, which is being established to address the challenges of the limited size of most of the domestic markets within the region.