President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said poor electricity in Nigeria and other West African countries was slowing economic development and productivity in the region.
Buhari spoke at the 14th Session of the West African Power Pool General Assembly in Abuja, just as the WAPP announced that it targeted to invest $25.91bn to generate 15.49 gigawatts of electricity in the region.
The WAPP is an agency of the Economic Community of West African States. Members of the body had gathered in Abuja since Monday for its General Assembly.
At the event, Buhari told delegates that the lack of electricity in many parts of West Africa had adversely affected the citizens’ productivity.
The President, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said, “The huge potential for electricity generation within the region still remains underdeveloped, thereby slowing the economic development of the countries and productivity of their citizens.
“These are clearly indicated by the human development indices.”
Buhari called on WAPP to work towards making electricity accessible to every citizen in the region at an affordable rate.
He, however, pointed out that the agency had embarked on several projects aimed at interconnecting the region and increasing its power supply levels.
He further called for proper regulation so as to achieve the desired results in various projects being executed by WAPP.
He said, “One major area that I will also want to highlight regarding electricity in our dear region today and going forward is regulation. Local and regional regulators, as well as operators in the industry, must be strong.
“It (regulation) must be firm, effective, productive, technology- and knowledge-driven. This is to help in driving quality performance from the service providers. Regulations must be taken seriously and penalties applied when necessary to instil discipline in the entire market.”
Also, the President charged West African nations to embrace renewable energy to mitigate the impacts of climate change, adding that Africa must strive to produce clean energy, as seen in developed nations.
In a report put together by WAPP on ECOWAS regional electricity market, which was made available at the meeting on Friday, the agency stated that various projects that would boost the region’s power supply had been identified.
It said, “Towards this end, the WAPP with the support of the European Union developed an updated ECOWAS Masterplan for the Development of Regional Power Generation and Transmission Infrastructure for the period 2019-2033.
“It identified 75 regional projects deemed priority for the period 2019-2033, with an estimated total investment requirement of $36.39bn. It identified 28 transmission line projects of approximately 22,932km of high voltage transmission lines at an estimated cost of $10.48bn.”
It added, “The WAPP also identified 47 generation projects with a total capacity of approximately 15.49GW at an estimated cost of $25.91bn.”
The agency explained that the generation projects comprised 31.1 per cent thermal projects operating mainly with natural gas and 68.9 per cent renewable energy projects (10.67GW) – of which 29.5 per cent involved variable renewable energy.
It noted that VRE projects constituted 20.33 per cent of the total generation in the priority list.