By Kebba Ansu Manneh
The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is playing host to the 7th Ecowas Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA) which brought together key regional actors in the electricity and energy sector.
The forum is centered on the theme: “Energy Security in ECOWAS Region through Interdependence”, meant to foster greater collaboration among regulators and other energy players in the region.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the regional confab, Laurent Kocou R. Tossou, Chairman of ERERA disclosed that the Banjul forum is the first of such gathering since the strike of the covid-19 that brought together electricity and energy sector players in the sub-region, adding that the forum seeks to consider discussions aimed bridging the energy gap and regional electricity market through Ecowas initiatives to address the shortfalls in energy supply.
He added that the forum also hopes to discuss the organisation of the electricity markets in West Africa from a national market towards a regional Electricity Market, noting that it will also look into possible ways and manners of improving the security of electricity supply through regional market and promotes cross-border electricity connectivity for sustainable development.
He acknowledged the various challenges the region is poised with in terms of access, distribution, and marketing, adding that through regional collaboration in the case of Senegal-Gambia, OMVG among other projects under the West African Power Pool (WAPP) will go a long way in easy the challenges confronting the region.
“This year’s theme: “Energy security in the Ecowas region through Independent”, is very fitting and timely as our collective demands on reliable energy supply increase. Therefore, this forum will stimulate objective discussions and proffer feasible solutions to our growing energy needs as we reflect on the current realities of the region vis-a-vis energy status as it impacts our growth and development objectives,” PURA DG.
He added: “As we all commit to this event, the Forum offers us an avenue as regulators, development policymakers, consumers, and utility service providers to rethink and ponder upon the increasing trend of high energy costs and trading methods and its underlying bottlenecks.
“It is prudent to note that no single nation is an Island of itself. Although regulation is still new in the Ecowas region, a Forum of this nature accords us the opportunity to discuss major challenges encountered and offer smart approaches to better the energy sector.”
He emphasized the need to strengthen effective collaboration and forge a new chapter for robust partnership directed towards harnessing the potentials of the regional integration, noting the need to sharpen investment strategies as well as enhance regulatory processes in the region to achieve its aims and objectives in the sector becomes very crucial.
Other speakers at the forum included the Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Abdoulie Jobe, Ousman Bah, Minister of Communication and Digital Infrastructure who all dilated on the significance of such a regional confab.
They also stressed the need for collaboration among the ecowas region in their quest to overcome the multiple challenges that grapple the sub-region, while noting the Gambia Government’s position in terms of energy production, distribution, policies, programs, collaboration among others in its efforts to make energy affordable and accessible to the people of The Gambia.