An amount of $300-million has been approved by the World Bank Group from the International Development Association (IDA) credits and grants to support reforms that will help promote electricity trade in west Africa.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the World Bank said the West Africa Regional Energy Trade Development Policy Financing Programme (West Africa Energy DPF) seeks to remove barriers to electricity trade, which will lower electricity costs for consumers, support the competitiveness of firms and improve resilience and reliability of supply.
The financial institution said that currently, only 50% of the population in West Africa has access to electricity, and those who do, pay among the highest prices in the world, more than double those of consumers in east Africa.
Due to operational deficiencies, electricity services are also unreliable, with an average of 44 hours of outages per month.
The policy reform programme will be implemented by Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone. It will facilitate trade in cleaner low cost electricity generated from gas, hydropower and renewable energy across borders.
This will replace the more expensive electricity generated from inefficient small-scale oil-fired and diesel generation and improve the reliability of electricity services.
“West Africa has huge potential for clean and green energy generation, which countries can unlock and pool together to bring lower cost electricity to communities and help create jobs,” said the World Bank vice-president for western and central Africa, Ousmane Diagana.
“The West Africa Power Pool has done the fundamental work of interconnecting national grids, and it is now time to realise the full strength of the regional power market. Coordinated policies paired with effective institutions and regulatory frameworks will help improve trust in the electricity trade and usher in a new era of affordable and reliable energy in West Africa," Diagana said.
President of the Economic Commission of West African States (Ecowas), Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said that this was a landmark programme for achieving its goal of having a regional energy market.
“The West Africa Power Pool will continue to make strides and with this support, it can help member countries work together on the key coordinated policy reforms needed to deliver regional electricity trade – and therefore access more affordable and reliable electricity.
"By better using energy resources in the region, we expect the resulting efficient and resilient power systems to make our economies much more productive and inclusive. Ecowas will continue to be a strong partner in realising this goal.”