Home Energy EREFA: Power stakeholders should address electricity in the sub-region

EREFA: Power stakeholders should address electricity in the sub-region

Mrs Ifey Ikeonu, Council Member, ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority, Ghana (ERERA) says stakeholders in the power sector should address electricity  in the sub region beyond national barriers .Ikeonu gave the  advice in a presentation titled, “Improving Regulatory Governance through Benchmarking’’ at the West African Power Industry Convention (WAPIC) in Lagos.According to her, our biggest challenge in the region remains that of bridging the gap between electricity supply and demand with average access rate to electricity in the region being about 30 per cent. “This is a very huge gap that requires a lot of proactive and innovative solutions if we are to meet the sustainable energy for all goals of providing universal access to electricity by the year 2030.  
“The region is blessed with an abundance of natural and renewable resources and we must try to articulate the right strategies that will attract the required financial resources needed to put in place power infrastructure across board.“We should leverage on the resources within the region, to rapidly improve access to electricity,’’ he said.
Ikeonu observed that West Africa leader’s vision for the electricity industry should be a sustainable and integrated electricity sector which was reliable and affordable. She said that such integrated electricity would serve as the bedrock foreconomic and social development and growth of the region. “My advice will be to emphasize that stakeholders must begin to look beyond national barriers in addressing the electricity sector challenges in the various countries of West Africa.
“ We must learn to rely on our joint resources be its natural, human or financial in tackling these challenges.“ Furthermore, we need to pay attention on the governance of the sector because a sustainable power sector can only be built based  on a clear, predictable and transparent regulatory framework, Ikeonu added. She said that in  order to ensure the smooth operation of the regional market, member states were mandated to establish an independent regulatory authority where none exists.
The ERERA member said that there was need to protect the independence of the regulatory authority,  adding that member states should in particular ensure that the regulatory authority had legal personality, budgetary autonomy, adequate human and financial resources to carry out its duties.
Ikeonu said that the council was faced with challenges of absence of information technology and communications infrastructure to facilitate integration to a regional information management system.
“ Importance of benchmarking in the power sector cannot be over-emphasized, benefits includes, establishment of credible targets for performance improvement. “Enables best practices from the industry to be incorporated into the benchmarked functions and stimulates competitive behaviour and encourages innovation,’’ she said.
She said that ERERA is currently putting in place the building blocks for the off-take of the ECOWAS regional electricity market. Stressing that the council had finalised the regional market rules and would be adopted by the ERERA following the conclusion of the methodology for the regional transmission tariffs.
“We are also working on the development of the contractual templates for cross-border electricity trading in the region. “The adoption of  all of these regulatory tools will signal the commencement of the first phase of the regional market and I am eager to see this in place as soon as possible,’’ she said.

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