Home Economy Electricity access in rural West Africa alarmingly low at 10%- ECOWAS 

Electricity access in rural West Africa alarmingly low at 10%- ECOWAS 

by Business News Report

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has sounded the alarm over the dismal state of electricity access in rural areas across the region. According to a statement issued by the ECOWAS Commissioner of Infrastructure, Energy & Digitalisation, Mr. Sediko Douka, at a weekly press conference in Abuja today, only 10 percent of rural communities in West Africa have access to electricity as of 2023.  This grim statistic stands in stark contrast to the overall increase in electricity access across the region, which has risen from 45 percent in 2019 to an average of 53 percent in 2023. 

“The energy sector, which is one of ECOWAS’s main areas of action, has an installed production capacity of 25,421 GW, distributed as follows: 77% thermal, 22% hydro, 1% solar/wind. The rate of access to electricity has increased from 45% in 2019 to an average of 53% in 2023. Despite this increase, there were significant disparities as the electricity access rate in rural areas is standing at only 10%,” he said. He said the electric sector also faced a low level of intra-regional electricity exchanges which he put at 9 per cent. The ECOWAS commissioner said electricity prices in the West African region remain very high (0.24 USD = 150 FCFA/kWh), negatively impacting economic development, especially industrial development. 

To address these challenges, he said: “ECOWAS set up specialized agencies in the field of energy, namely, the West African Power Pool (WAPP) in Cotonou, Benin, the Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA) in Accra, Ghana, the Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) in Praia, Cape Verde, and the West African Gas Pipeline Authority (WAGPA) in Abuja, Nigeria.” Douka added that other measures taken by ECOWAS to address the challenges include the implementation of the WAPP Master Plan for regional power generation and transmission facilities for 2019-2033: 75 regional projects worth USD 36 billion to build 23,000 km of power interconnection lines and generate 16,000 MW. Others, according to him are the launching and operationalization of the Regional Electricity Market in 2018, the promotion of renewable energies, and electricity access programs for both on-grid and off-grid networks.

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