Apr 22, 2009, 7:02 AM
The forum, like the others before it, is to promote cooperation and exchange of information amongst the regulatory bodies of ECOWAS member states. It also serves as a permanent platform for discussion aimed at regulators and all stakeholders in the electricity sector in West Africa.
Ahead of the forum, a three-member delegation from ERERA headquarters based in Accra, Ghana, arrived in Banjul on a four-day fact-finding mission in preparation for the sub-regional forum.
Speaking in an interview with The Point yesterday, Oumar Bangoura, chief legal expert at ERERA and head of the fact-finding mission, said their mission to Banjul was to discuss with the Gambia’s minister of energy, Tenengba Jaiteh, about the energy system in the sub-region ahead of the forum.
He told The Point that the theme for this year’s Forum is: ‘Fast-tracking the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Market: The Regulatory Issues’.
This, he said, reflects the uppermost concern of ERERA, that currently, regulation is central to the development process of the regional electricity market, which is being established to address the challenges of the limited size of most of the national markets within the region.
According to him, the forum will bring together stakeholders from the energy sector of ECOWAS member states, including the ministries in charge of energy and finance, national regulatory authorities, utility companies, parliamentarians, academics , researchers, consumer groups and other civil society organizations, banks and financial institutions, regional and international institutions, as well as development partners.
He disclosed that participants are also expected from other regional economic communities (RECs), regulators’ associations and the general public.
The establishment of the regional market will assist in tackling the issue of unequal distribution of energy resources among countries, as well as the critical issue of bridging the gap between supply and demand of electricity.
Regional regulation will oversee contractual arrangements that govern cross-border transactions between parties operating in the regional electricity market, including the establishment of a transparent tariff methodology.
The effectiveness of regional regulation enhances the confidence to address governance in the sector and facilitate the involvement of private sector participation as well as public-private partnership, without which necessary investments in the electric power sector development will be difficult to achieve.
In this regard, the objective is to promote transparency of cross-border exchanges in electricity, through the introduction of market rules, incorporating key principles such as cooperation, gradualism, transparency, non-discrimination, competitiveness and sustainability.
The establishment of ECOWAS regional electricity market is planned in three phases, each of them corresponding to a vision of development in the short-, medium- and long-term. There are obviously issues around it all.
The 4th forum will address all these issues, and the role of regional regulation in the development of the electricity market through the active participation of key stakeholders during the forum.