ECOWAS to address energy challenge in West Africa

Adoba Echono, Abuja.

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The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, ECREEE, has reiterated its commitment to addressing energy challenge in West Africa, especially in the rural areas.

The Executive Director, ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, ECREEE, Mr. Mahamah Kappiah, made the commitment in a presentation during an oversight visit by members of the ECOWAS Parliament to the centre in Praia, Cape Verde.

Mr. Kappiah who disclosed that only 8% of the rural population in the region has access to electricity attributes this poor development to population growth.

According to him, “it has not improved because for the past 5 to 6 years, access is improving only in the urban communities but at the same time, population is also growing more in the rural than urban areas.

“So population growth has taken over all the successes that we have achieved, so we need to double our efforts to improve the situation.’’

The Executive Director of the Centre said nine years down the line, the centre has enlightened the region that renewable energy is sustainable and not expensive.

He said the centre has formulated a regional policy in collaboration with the 15 member states, to come up with an action plan for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and has also embarked on building the capacity of actors in the sector in the region.

Mr. Kappiah said at the moment, the centre is carrying out project development and investment promotion in the sector with member countries.

We support member states with technical and legal advice in auction and bidding processes and PPA negotiations, so that if they want to go into energy investments, they will avoid wrong deals because this is what happens in several sectors”.

As part of improving expertise in the sector, Mr. Kappiah said the centre has started a regional certification scheme to promote professional competency and address quality assurance gap that exist in member states.

The ECREEE model, he said has been duplicated in other regions of Africa as well as the Pacific and Caribbean regions.

The speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Mr. Moustapha Cissé Lo, who said they were at the centre for an oversight visit, commended the centre for carrying out its mandate effectively.

The visit also afforded members of the ECOWAS Parliament an opportunity to raise questions for further clarification on the subject matter.

More than 172 million people in West Africa do not have access to electricity.

The figure represents 58% of the 330 million people who lack electricity in the region.

It was with a view to addressing energy challenge in the region through the promotion of development of sustainable energy that ECREEE was inaugurated in July 2010.

Amaka E. Nliam