By Gloria Ikibah
Project Coordinator for West African Power Pool (WAPP), Dr. Mawufemo Modjinou has said that some of the challenges hindering the progress of grid interconnectivity across the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region are incessant insecurity crises and lack of funding.
Modjinou further noted that the West African sub-region is endowed with enormous energy resources but the resources are unevenly distributed and located far from those without access.
He stated this on Wednesday at the ongoing delocalised meeting of the Joint Committees of the ECOWAS Parliament on the theme: “Building the regional energy market for a just energy transition” in Freetown the capital of in Sierra Leone.
Modjinou asserted that the interconnection of power grids would help diversify the imported sources of energy to hinterland countries and this will have a major impact on the quality of service provided by utilities.
The WAPP Coordinator further said that the ECOWAS sub-region has a population of 400 million people and therefore has the potential to generate energy for the exchange market.
“West Africa has one of the highest differentials of electricity costs in the world, but vast geographical distances and limited infrastructure does not permit countries to trade electricity to meet demand at economically efficient prices.
“It also includes some of the most poverty-stricken countries in the world, which could benefit from abundant and realisable electricity.
“Since the creation of the west African Power Pool (WAPP), in just a decade all ECOWAS Member countries are now linked with transmission infrastructure, and many are exchanging power with their neighbors.
“Bilateral trade has increased significantly since the formation of WAPP, albeit unevenly and with continuous financial and operational challenges”, he stated.
According to Modjinou, judicious implementation of the priority projects listed in the master plan has resulted in interconnection of 13 of the 14 continental ECOWAS countries and work is underway to interconnect the remaining country, Guinea Bissau, by the end of 2023.
“Other important power transmission projects totalling 1, 873 kilometers of high voltage lines are being implemented to reinforce the exchange of power and reliability of the regional network, namely the North Core HV Interconnecyion Project between Nigeria, the Niger, Binin and Burkina Faso of about 900 Kilometers, the Guinea-Mali HV Interconnection project of about 714 Kilometers and the Manantali-Bomako line project (279KM) of high voltage in Mali.”
In reaction to the submission by WAPP, a Parliamentarian from Nigeria, Oghene Emma Egoh, said not much impact has been felt because the people live in perpetual darkness and use of generation sets has become the order of the day.
According to him: “WAPP needs to look into the Nigeria power issue carefully because less than 50 per cent of Nigerians run generators on daily bases. Also Nigeria needs about 30 megawatts to be able to have stable electricity. Nigerians enjoy less than one hour of power in a day, so I do not know how you were able to arrive at such an arrangement.”
The WAPP infrastructure programme is derived from the ECOWAS Master Plan for the Development of Regional Power Generation and Transmission Infrastructure.
The current plan covers the period of 2019-2033 and was adopted by ECOWAS Heads of States and government in December 2018.