Monday, July 21, 2014

AFRICA IN FOCUS >> Coming up on 22 July, 2014: "Understanding Energy Security in West Africa"

Understanding Energy Security in West Africa

Since mid 2006, Ghana, like much of West Africa, has been facing a serious shortage of electricity.

 Economies in the region grew, which fueled demand for electricity. Regrettably, necessary investments in new generation capacity as well as transmission and distribution networks did not take place. Consequently, efforts to diversify the fuel portfolio, and to increase reliability of the grid faced challenges as regional projects, such as the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) and West African Power Pool (WAPP) faltered when the construction of the pipeline and gas supplies were delayed.

Increased reliance on oil or diesel (imported in the case of all countries in the region including Nigeria) combined with historically-high oil prices hurt ECOWAS member states government budgets and current accounts. Consequently, many businesses were shut down or saw lost sales due to blackouts. It makes sense that a look at the electricity infrastructure in the region is useful for identifying issues that need to be addressed.

Understanding energy security is important because the reliable supply of commercial energy services is critical for growing economies in West Africa. Just like people elsewhere, citizens in West Africa seek a higher standard of living, which is only possible with access to commercially-sustainable energy services.

Yet, most of the region lack the energy infrastructure needed to meet demand, although resources such as oil, gas, hydro and coal are available and there are opportunities for modern use of biomass and other renewables such as wind and solar.

The attacks on the West Africa Gas Pipeline in 2012 by pirates – considered one of the sources of the sub-region’s energy needs – that resulted in disruption of electricity in the countries of the WAGP, including Ghana, suggest there remains a lot to be done in protecting the sub-region’s energy needs. ECOWAS has been instrumental in the development of energy security in the sub-region. Today, we interrogate the question of what energy security is, and explore what the ECOWAS as a REC is doing to beef up the energy needs of the member states for the benefits of its citizens.

Guests include:

Ø  Uwem Thompson, Communications Officer, Ecowas Regional Energy Regulatory Electricity Authority (ERERA), Accra
Ø  Stella Attakpah, Programmes Manager, Intergovernmental  Action Group Against Money-Laundering(GIABA), Dakar [on the line from Vienna, Austria]

Tune in at 13h10 GMT (1:00pm Ghana Time). We’re also streaming live

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