Wednesday, November 28, 2007

ECOWAS Energy Ministers adopt common stand on energy

ECOWAS Ministers of Energy have adopted resolutions of the draft Supplementary Act on the regional regulation of the electricity sector, t h e establishment of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulation Authority (ERERA) a nd the creation of a regional agency on access to energy services.


Other resolutions adopted by the ministers at their one-day meeting here Frida y are the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP), Emergency Power Supply Security Plan, t h e WAPP Transmission Line Implementation Strategy and the Accelerated Improvement
of the Electricity Sub-sector in West Africa.
The supplementary act seeks to institute a regulatory authority for the electr icity sector in the region to foster open and transparent cross-border electrici t y exchanges among member states. This they believe would ensure improved efficie n cy of power supply to ECOWAS citizens.
The act will serve as a regulatory framework for the power sector and is a pre lude to the establishment of a regional regulatory body, which received the appr o val of ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments, in January 2005.
The setting up of the ERERA is to encourage regulation of the regional power m arket by establishing good contractual practices and cooperation among national r egulatory authorities in cross-border power exchanges.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the ministers commended the French Development Agency (AFD) for its recent provision of 5 million euros towa r ds the creation of the regulatory authority as well as the World Bank, the Unite d Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United States Agency for Internati o nal Development (USAID) for their firm commitment to the development of the ECOW A S energy programme.
They also called on the ECOWAS Commission to work closely with the AFD on its initiative to intimate other donors towards the establishment and operation of t h e regulatory body.
The regulatory authority is a pre-requisite for the promotion of infrastructur al development and attraction of investments to West Africa.
Its mandate includes ensuring regulation of regional electricity exchanges, as sisting the ECOWAS Commission in the definition of strategic orientation of the r egional policy and in the harmonization of policies and national power structure s and supporting the establishment of the regional market to open to competition.
Also, the regulatory authority is expected to supervise regional market operat ions, ensure communication with and between actors as well as establish efficien t procedures for dispute resolution between stakeholders.
The regulation project, a critical activity under the West Africa Power Pool ( WAPP), is to ensure the establishment of an attractive environment for public an d private investors to develop and strengthen electricity supply as well as power
exchanges between the 15 member states.
The ministers also adopted the recommendations made by WAPP to the Emergency P ower Security Plan and a plan of action that was developed to curtail power shor t ages experienced in member states.
The disturbing electricity supply situation has been attributed, among other f actors, to a rapid population growth, lack of adequate investments in the electr i city sector and increased oil prices in the world market, which has had grave co n sequences on existing generation facilities in the region.
Similarly, the ministers endorsed the WAPP Transmission Line Implementation St rategy, which is a concept of developing WAPP transmission lines through special
purpose companies under a public-private partnership arrangement as well as the a ccelerated improvement of the electricity sub-sector in the region.
In addition, they made recommendations on the implementation of the Regional P olicy on Access to Energy Services for Rural and semi-urban populations adopted b y regional leaders in January 2006.
The policy, which seeks to provide energy access to, at least, half of the pop ulation in rural and semi-urban areas by 2015, includes an action plan, an imple m entation strategy, based on the principle to create a Regional Agency for Energy
Access and an investment programme.
Critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly th ose of poverty reduction, improved health, education, water supply, the Energy A c cess Programme aims to promote harmonized political and institutional frameworks
to energy access as a key priority for ensuring human development.
In adopting the resolution relating to the implementation of the Regional Poli cy on Access to Energy Services (also called the White Paper) on Access to Energ y Services, the ministers recommended the creation of a Regional Agency for Energ y Access (RAEA) as a specialized institution of ECOWAS.
In this regard, the ECOWAS Commission is requested to oversee its establishmen t.
As a first step, it will set up a dedicated unit at the Commission, which will work towards reaching the necessary conditions defined in the road map, to effe c tively set-up the agency, by developing deeper collaboration with member states,
national and regional stakeholders and development partners, along the four line s of the regional plan of action.
All the resolutions and related recommendations will be presented to the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, through the regional Council of Ministers, at the i r next summit.

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