Posted by: africanpressorganization | 30 August 2008

Guinea Bissau / Energy crisis / Ministers Take Bold Steps to Address Energy Crisis in West Africa




Guinea Bissau / Energy crisis /
Ministers Take Bold Steps to Address Energy Crisis in West Africa


BISSAU, Guinea Bissau, August 30, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Ministers of Energy from West Africa ended their one-day meeting on

Friday, 29th August 2008 in Bissau, Guinea Bissau with the adoption of

six resolutions as a further measure to address, in a concrete manner,

the energy crisis being experienced in their region.


The ministers, who reviewed the report of a preceding experts meeting,

noted the various regional energy projects to tackle the energy crisis

and paid particular attention to the UEMOA Emergency Supply Plan, the

West African Gas Pipeline project, the Emergency Supply Plan of the

West Africa Power Pool project, the Regional Regulation Project for

the ECOWAS Electricity Sector and the implementation of the Regional

Policy for Access to Energy Services, the establishment of a Regional

Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and the

implementation of the Emergency Specific Plan of Electricity Supply

for Guinea Bissau.


While acknowledging the constraints and accepting the proposals for

accelerating the different projects, they expressed satisfaction with

the progress made in their implementation and adopted the resolutions.

The resolutions are those relating to the establishment of a Joint

ECOWAS-UEMOA Action Plan to Address Energy Crisis in the region, the

establishment of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority

(ERERA), the Financing Plan for the ERERA, the establishment of a

UNIDO-West Africa Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency as

well as the Promotion of Energy Efficiency in Member States.


Following the adoption by regional leaders in January 2008 in

Ouagadougou on an emergency power supply and security plan, the

ministers tasked the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions to set up a joint

plan of action to address the energy crisis in West Africa. While

calling on both commissions to harmonize their activities in the

energy sector to avoid duplication of efforts, they urged the

commissions to pay special attention to Guinea Bissau, Liberia and

Sierra Leone in the action plan.


In the case of Guinea Bissau, the ministers observed that the crisis

has assumed an alarming proportion and thus specifically recommended

that an urgent energy supply plan be implemented in the country to

enable it overcome the challenge.


They also proposed that a mobile production capacity, based on

appropriate fuels be deployed as a matter of urgency in Guinea Bissau,

in accordance with the ECOWAS energy security and supply plan.


Regarding the establishment of the regional electricity regulatory

authority, the ministers called on the ECOWAS Commission to facilitate

the commencement of activities of the authority by 1st January 2009.

The electricity regulatory authority was approved for take-off by

ECOWAS Heads of State and Government at their January 2008 summit in



In this regard, they urged the Commission to begin the necessary

administrative procedures, including steps leading to the selection of

a Committee of Energy Ministers that will oversee the appointment of

the Chairman of the regulatory authority, whose headquarters will be

determined by the Heads of State at their next summit.


The regulatory body is designed to help foster open and transparent

cross-border electricity exchanges within West Africa, ensure improved

efficiency of power supply in Member States and enable increased

access to energy for all Community citizens.


Among others, it will have jurisdiction over the territory of all

Member States in matters concerning cross-border exchanges of

electricity through the power transmission network.


To ensure a smooth take-off and operationalization of the authority,

the ministers requested that the ECOWAS Commission should seek means

of funding ERERA, including contributing to the funding of its

kick-off activities and designing a mechanism for the coordination of

the stakeholders of the electricity market, following an expected

diminishing of donor support.


On the establishment of a UNIDO-West Africa Centre for Renewable

Energy and Energy Efficiency, the ministers urged the ECOWAS

Commission to facilitate the establishment of the Centre for the

commencement of activities by 1st January 2009. They agreed that the

Centre, which will seek to improve access to sustainable energy

resources, will focus mainly on capacity building and dissemination of

knowledge, research and transfer of technology, policy, legal and

regulatory framework as well as the management of information and

advisory services.


The Centre, among other activities, is expected to conduct integrated

and real life project-related training programmes for target groups

such as high-level decision-makers to increase their consciousness of

renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities and staff of

national and regional institutions in energy and related sectors in

supporting and implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency

policies, programmes and projects.


Private sector operatives including project developers, financial

service providers, local industry and professional associations are

also to benefit from the Centre, which is expected to embark on

awareness raising and sensitization programmes.


Consequently, the ministers tasked the ECOWAS Commission to ensure

that the Centre creates the environment conducive for the

establishment of a specialized ECOWAS institution on energy access in

the future.


In addition, the ministers called on the ECOWAS Commission to take

steps necessary to develop a programme aimed at promoting energy

efficiency, including an action plan for the substitution of

incandescent light bulbs by CFL light bulbs in Member States.

Similarly, they urged Member States to ensure the efficient use of

energy in all sectors of the economy by giving priority to the

implementation of the regional action plan on energy efficiency.


The ministers stated that the Community would benefit from energy

efficiency as it promotes the efficient use of electricity, reduces

the investment requirement for new power generation, transmission and

distribution systems as well as the emission of green house gases.


More specifically, CFL bulbs reduce energy consumption by over 75 per

cent, greatly improve illumination, emit less than 25 per cent of the

heat emitted by incandescent bulbs and last much longer, according to

the meeting.


The resolutions will be presented for adoption to the ECOWAS Council

of Ministers and subsequently to the Heads of State and Government.




SOURCE : Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)


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