Reports say 220 million people in West Africa are living without access to energy and this has continued to constitute huge source of concern to stakeholders in the subregion.
Statistically, only about 42% of the total population, and 8% of rural residents, have access to electricity in West Africa.
Access is key to boosting economic activity and contributes to improving human capital, which, in turn, is an investment in a country’s potential hence this sorry state of energy in the subregion portends grave consequences as electricity is an important step towards enhancing people’s opportunities and choices.
In the last few decades, the subregion had steadily focused on Renewable Energy, to augment for the energy shortfall.
For this and numerous other concerns the parliamentary arm of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is convening a delocalized meeting on energy and women’s empowerment sensitization campaign in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city.
According to a Media Advisory released by the Communication Division of the Parliament on Thursday 16th March 2023, the delocalized meeting which will hold from the 20th to the 25th of March 2023, will focus on “Building the regional energy market for a perfect energy transition,”.
The meeting will feature eight of the Parliament’s fourteen Standing Committees including (Energy and Mining/ Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources/Infrastructure/Industry and Private Sector/ Public Accounts/Macroeconomic Policy and Economic/Administration, Finance and Budget/ and Health).
According to a World Bank publication on ‘sustainable energy for all’ titled, ‘Regional electricity trade, the key to unleashing West Africa’s power,’ written by Charles Cormier West Africa “Home to a rapidly growing population and persistently high rates of poverty, suffers from an energy conundrum which if solved, has the potential to unleash economic development, drive down poverty, and improve the quality of life of millions of people.”
The article also highlighted that the region is caught in a vicious energy cycle plagued by unreliable, extremely expensive power supplies, low rates of electricity access, and inability to recover the exorbitantly high cost of producing electricity.
IT IS REPORTED THAT ONLY 50% OF THE POPULATION HAS ACCESS TO ELECTRICITY WHICH IS OFTEN UNRELIABLE AS POWER SUPPLIES SUFFER FROM AN AVERAGE OF 44 HOURS OF OUTAGES PER MONTH AND ARE AMONG THE MOST EXPENSIVE IN THE WORLD WITH PRICES AVERAGING ABOUT $0.20 PER KILOWATT PER HOUR.
West Africans pay about twice as much for electricity as their neighbors on the eastern side of the continent, and for those living
in the region’s fragile states, prices can be as high as $0.40 per kilowatt per hour,” according to the publication.
In view of some of these emerging contexts from the publication and many other issues, the ECOWAS Parliamentarians and experts are converging to zero in on the problems and proffer solutions that would better the lot of the people in West Africa.
On the other hand, the Association of ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians dubbed,
ECOFEPA is also holding a sensitization campaign in Freetown to deliberate on issues of women empowerment in the sub-region