By Elizabeth Chirkpi, Alieu Ceesay, Saffiyatu Fefe Massaquoi & Marcelina Ozekhome
The Project Coordinator for West African Power Pool (WAPP), Dr. Mawufemo Modjinou has decried the incessant insecurity crises and lack of funding as some of the challenges hindering the progress of grid interconnectivity across the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region.
He that the interconnection of power grids will help diversify the imported sources of energy to hinterland countries. “This will have a major impact on the quality of service provided by utilities”, Modjinou submitted.
These revelations were made on Wednesday during a presentation on the theme “mobilization and securing of financing for the realisation of regional infrastructures for the production and transmission of electricy,” as part of the five day delocalised joint committee meeting in Freetown, organised by the Ecowas Parliament.
The WAPP Coordinator further submitted that the ECOWAS region and West Africa at large 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.
Speaking on the importance and benefits of the WAPP Project, he said since the commencement of the project a decade ago, many ECOWAS Member States have been able to link with transmission infrastructure.
“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.
In reaction to the submission made by WAPP, Rep. Emmanuel Egoh Ogene from Nigeria 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.
Alot of other MPs from the other countries colloborated the position of Rep. Ogene as Bida Nouhoume, a Parliamentarian from Benin Republic and Co-chair, said alot of money has gone into the project with little or nothing to show for it.
According to Rep. Ogene: “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.”
Earlier, WAPP in their presentation said, “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.”
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.