Friday, September 30

West Africa Electricity Regulators to Address Interconnection and Cost of Energy Affordability

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By Kebba Ansu Manneh

Dr. Haliru Dikko, Council Member, Economist at Ecowas Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA) has disclosed that the next summit of the organisation will be hosted in Banjul in November, revealing that the key issues to be discussed during the Banjul summit will be anchored on electricity interconnection and cost of affordability by customers buying energy.

He made these remarks at the PURA conference center where he expressed his delegation’s delights towards the Gambian government and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) for the excellent reception accorded.

“The forum is very critical to ERERA because it is going to focus on key issues but top on the agenda is the issue of interconnection. Importing power from one country to another is a very complicated issue but there is a need to have an understanding because there are both technical and financial requirements,” Dr. Haliru Dikko, ERERA Council Member, Economist preempted key issue to be discussed at the Banjul summit.

He added: “We will discuss and share experiences because there are other countries in the subregion that are having problems with the issue of interconnection. To ensure that there is peace and tranquility during the transactions because electricity issues are complicated, they are for the long term 20-30 so you have to ensure that the interest of all the parties is taken into account.”

Dr. Dikko went on that another key issue to be discussed by the regional electricity regulatory authority at its forthcoming meeting in Banjul will be the cost of affordability of energy. He added that cost and affordability issues will be discussed concerning the global economic situation such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russian war.

According to him, the issue of cost and recovery of such cost within the context of what is happening globally remains important, noting that the region is not immune from global shocks and cannot afford to fold its hands amidst the current global economic crisis.

“We cannot say we are not affected either directly or indirectly, so we will review the implications and see how we will move about within the context of cost and affordability. It is important to see whether the cost given to consumers is affordable or not but the rule is that the service provider must recover its cost,” Dr. Dikko posited.

He added that “The Banjul summit will primarily focus on the key issues of interconnection and cost of affordability. Finally, I will like to thank the government of the Gambia and PURA for the excellent reception accorded to us.”

Solo Sima, Acting Director General, PURA expressed delight and appreciation to the visiting delegation. He disclosed that ERERA is the regulator of the regional cross-border trade of electricity in West Africa, of which The Gambia is a vibrant member.

He said the visit of the delegation is prompted by Gambia’s desire to host ERERA’s first post-pandemic continental annual conference slated for November. The forum, he said, is the first of its kind in the country that is hoped to bring together regional regulators, African energy institutions, and international partners.

According to him, this summit has come at a time when the Gambia is also into the issue of interconnection with Senegal and the region to assure continuity of services. He noted that it is in line with the desire of Ecowas to realise electricity interconnections through joint implementation and sharing of energy resources of the region.

More so, he revealed that the energy protocol is designed to put in place the appropriate legal and institutional environment for the development of the electricity sector of West Africa. He added that the visit by the regional electricity regulators has availed the opportunity for PURA and Gambian stakeholders to meet the new ERERA Chairman, garner updates on the state of the regional electricity market as well as assess the preparation of the forthcoming 7th ERERA annual forum.