By Temitope Ponle
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, says it is committed to enhancing access to electricity in the sub-region by 60 per cent in line with the set target of 2020.
This formed part of discussions at the meeting organised by the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREE) on the Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP) in Accra on Wednesday.
ROGEP aims to enhance electricity access in West Africa and the Sahel region, through standalone solar systems, including solar lanterns, solar home systems, solar water pumps, solar mills, among others.
The project sponsored by the World Bank has a budget of $200 million and aims to enhance electricity access in 19 countries.
They are: the 15 ECOWAS member states, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, and Mauritania.
Stakeholders reiterated that the project was pertinent to ensuring access to electricity by citizens, especially in rural areas, within the region who had no form of electricity connection.
Mr Sire Diallo, Coordinator of Private Sector Support Facility, ECREEE told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that multilevel cooperation among member states would facilitate the aims of ROGEP.
“The project is going to be a five-year project and we are looking at 2022, but the project came after the targets were set for the region by the Heads of State to achieve a 60 per cent electrification rate by 2020.
“In this project, we try to address such issues at many levels and some of these challenges are not linked to the entrepreneurs, just that the enabling environment does not exist.
“Those are related to policies, so we have to work with our public sector and governments to make sure that they put in place appropriate mechanisms so that our entrepreneurs in the sector can thrive.”
Diallo added that capacity building and provision of funds were necessary to the sustenance of such projects in the region.
Another participant, Mrs Sakeena Twumasi, Chief Executive Officer, Atlas Business and Energy Systems Ltd, called for persistent sensitisation of all community citizens to ensure the realisation of electricity access by 2020.
Twumasi also said that quality in product delivery would also facilitate the success of the project.
“ECREEE, for example, has made all stakeholders aware of the project so when it is being rolled out, everybody knows, but if no one is aware they do not understand,this slows down implementation.
“What the client needs is what you have to give them that, is why there are smaller packages that are affordable and whatever we as solar companies are supplying has to have quality.
“If there is quality, more people come on board and we are focusing on the rural communities.
“We need to educate them and make sure that we do not politicise anything we are doing or we will not meet our targets.”
The two-day meeting had more than 150 participants drawn from public and private sectors and the international community.