Buhari Seeks Autonomous Regulators to Improve ECOWAS Power Output

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Chineme Okafor in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has called for a strong, effective and proactive regulation of the electricity market across member states of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) by their respective power sector regulatory agencies.

He said independent power sector regulators were necessary to ensure quality performance from electricity service providers within the ECOWAS countries.

A statement from the ministry of power quoted Buhari to have said this in his address at the 14th Session of the General Assembly of the West African Power Pool (WAPP). The meeting had as its central focus the future prospects in the ECOWAS power market. He was represented at the occasion by the Secretary to the Government of
the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, and explained that for the electricity industry to be taken seriously, regulatory penalties must be applied when necessary to instill discipline in the market.

“One major area I would also want to highlight regarding electricity and going forward is regulation. Local and regional regulators in the industry must be strong. It must be firm, effective, proactive, technology and knowledge driven. This is the sure way of deriving quality performance from service providers. Regulation must be taken seriously, and penalties applied when necessary to instill discipline in the entire market,” Buhari said.

According to him, ECOWAS countries must also harness, develop and share energy resources within the region with the primary objectives of improving access to steady and affordable electricity for the people living within the region.

He explained that: “The huge potential for electricity generation within the region still remains underdeveloped, thereby slowing the economic development of the countries and productivity.”

The president stated that these are clearly indicated by the human development indices in the region, adding that it was equally important that WAPP progresses in the direction of incorporating countries within its framework and developing the energy resources available across the region to realise the objectives of reliable and affordable electricity for all the region’s citizens.

He also charged countries in the region to focus on current realities and bridge the electricity supply gap in the region with renewable energy sources which he noted would help it mitigate the impacts of climate change on the region.

According to him, Africa must strive to produce clean energy as seen in developed nations.
Buhari, who commended the WAPP for its launch of the North Core Project which is a 876 kilometers – 330 kilovolt (kV) transmission line from Nigeria through the Republics of Niger, Benin and Togo and terminating in the Republic of Burkina Faso, said: “It will facilitate a huge power exchange in the sub region. This and all the other projects in the WAPP master plan should be vigorously pursued by all stakeholders.”

He further appealed to investors and multilateral donor agencies in the region’s electricity market, as well as international finance organisations, to avoid instances of corrupt practices in the sector, adding that it was detrimental to development and productivity.

Similarly, in his remarks, the Minister of Power, Mr. Sale Mamman, said he was impressed with WAPP’s role of interconnecting the 14 member-countries of ECOWAS. He added that Nigeria was making progress on projects that would increase regional electricity market integration and trade with the 3,050 megawatts (MW) Mambilla hydro power plant as one of such projects.