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Akufo-Addo Advises West Africa Leaders To Invest In Electricity Infrastructure

By Frank Amponsah

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged West African leaders to do more to invest in electricity and infrastructure of their countries since the production and delivery of stable, reliable and affordable power is critical to the success of efforts towards the integration and development of West Africa.

 

According to him, the availability and use of electricity will greatly influence how rapidly West African countries are able to increase their agricultural and industrial productivity, provide safe drinking water, and achieve rapid economic development.

In quoting the President the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, Akufo-Addo said “If African leaders want power, they must provide power.”

He maintained that the delivery of stable, affordable power is critical to the success of our efforts towards the development of West Africa and that since 2000, economic growth in West Africa has been rapid, and so has electricity consumption. 

He revealed that the annual growth in demand for electricity is estimated at 10%, meaning that for every 7 years, investment in electricity infrastructure has to be doubled in most West African countries.

“The availability and use of electricity will greatly influence how rapidly West African countries are able to increase their agricultural and industrial productivity, provide safe drinking water, achieve rapid economic development, and use information and communications technology to become increasingly integrated into the global marketplace,” he said.

Speaking at the 12th General Assembly of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), in Accra a couple of days ago President Akufo-Addo averred  that investment in the energy sector ensures the delivery of financial and social returns that have the potential to address important challenges, such as reduction of poverty and improvement of the lives of people, stressing that in West Africa  through the ECOWAS Energy Protocol, efforts have been made to resolve the regulatory and political barriers constraining investment in electricity supply, and inadequate infrastructure along the electricity value chain.

He enumerated that investment in the energy sector has been termed as “impact investment”, in that it ensures the delivery of financial and social returns that have the potential to address important challenges, such as reduction of poverty and improvement of the lives of people.

It is for this reason that Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, through the Supplementary Act A/SA4/01/08, decided that most of the regional power generation facilities should be developed by WAPP, through special purpose vehicles under the PPP framework.

He mentioned that the 450 MW WAPP Regional Thermal Generation Plants at Aboadze in Ghana, and Maria Gleta in Benin, are being developed within this framework, with the successes of these projects going a long way to boost investor confidence and attract more private sector capital into other WAPP Projects.

President Akufo-Addo noted that Ghana has been able, through the right regulatory, legal and commercial framework, to attract a lot of private sector players into the generation end of the business, and in the near future should be able to export its excess generation through the WAPP network to other countries.

“We are fully aware that, if we are to see West Africa prosper, a Region that is able to turn its natural endowments into resources that will offer her people access to better education, improved health care, safe water and electricity, we should call on our experts, technical and financial partners gathered here this week, to come up with concrete proposals that will make regional integration, through a Regional Electricity Market, a reality,” the President said.

He was confident that the 12th WAPP General Assembly will be able to seize the opportunity to reflect on the progress made towards the establishment of a Regional Electricity Market, and, in general, identify gaps and challenges, as we map a clear way forward.

With discussions at the WAPP General Assembly focusing on Regional Electricity Market, President Akufo-Addo urged the participants to recall that, whilst the challenges are immense, the Region must fundamentally realign its energy systems to achieve a unified system.

“WAPP has what it takes, in terms of capacity and capability, to create the Regional Electricity Market.  This is the surest way to harness the abundant energy resources in the Region to accelerate the socio-economic development of the Region, and improve the living standards of our people.  We must travel down this road. Alongside the risks, this is a moment of great opportunity for WAPP and West Africa,” he added.

Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, Ghana has been able, through the right regulatory, legal and commercial framework, to attract a lot of private sector players into the generation end of the business, and in the near future should be able to export its excess generation through the WAPP network to other countries.  

He indicated that there must be conscious efforts to make West Africa prosper and become a Region that is able to turn its natural endowments into resources that will offer her people access to better education, improved health care, safe water and electricity.

According to him “we should call on our experts, technical and financial partners gathered here this week, to come up with concrete proposals that will make regional integration, through a Regional Electricity Market, a reality.”

President was convinced that the agreement amongst West African countries to integrate their electricity network for the region’s development and economic take-off will engender strong synergies and significant complementarities.

He said “The outcome of the integration should be an electricity system in which uninterrupted supply is the expectation, rather than the exception,” he added, saying that whilst progress has been made in terms of the provision of generation and transmission infrastructure, as well as the technical and commercial rules for the establishment of the Regional Electricity Market, the evidence on the ground still points that more has to be done to get to the final destination. It is said that “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

President Akufo-Addo maintained that whilst the challenges are immense, countries must fundamentally realign their energy systems to achieve a unified system and that WAPP has what it takes, in terms of capacity and capability, to create the Regional Electricity Market. 

He added that, “This is the surest way to harness the abundant energy resources in the Region to accelerate the socio-economic development of the Region, and improve the living standards of our people.  We must travel down this road. Alongside the risks, this is a moment of great opportunity for WAPP and West Africa.”

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