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ECOWAS Court gets mandate to settle regional electricity disputes

Presidents Boni Yayi of the Benin Republic and Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari
Presidents Boni Yayi of the Benin Republic and Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari at an ECOWAS related meeting

Economic Community of West African States’ Community Court of Justice (ECOWAS Court) has obtained mandate to settle disputes arising among Member-states in the course of wheeling electricity.

The mandate was contained in an agreement reached in Abuja, Tuesday, between the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA) and the Court.

Acting Chairperson of ERERA, Mrs Ifey Ikeonu, who led a delegation of the management of Authority to the court headquarters in Abuja, said the agreement was imperative to the effective discharge of the mandate of ERERA.

She said the intervention of the ECOWAS court would be needed in resolving disputes on power arising among member-states.

According to her, ERERA, which has its headquarters in Ghana, is the regulator of regional cross-border trade of electricity in West Africa.

She said the agency was saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the dispute that came up between countries in the course of wheeling power is settled amicably.

She said that from the agreement reached, parties that were not satisfied with the decision of ERERA on any dispute could appeal to the community court.

Ikeonu said there was the need for the court to be intimated with the rules and regulations guiding the operation of ERERA.

She explained that the agency, among others, had the responsibility to create conducive business environment for investors in energy sector in West Africa.

Ikeonu who disclosed that ERERA would soon launch its regional electricity regulation guide, said the agency had put in place a regional market rule that would guide licensing to operators.

According to her, the agency had also put in place tariff methodology on how much it cost to move power from one country to the other.

She said the body would inaugurate a dispute resolution committee in the next couple of months.

President of the ECOWAS Court, Justice Maria de Ceu Silva Monteiro, commended the ERERA’s resolution to partner with the court.

Monteiro said the importance of the partnership could not be underestimated because energy was one of the critical sectors that sustain the region.

Vice President of the court, Justice Friday Nwoke from Nigeria, said it was of great interest for the two institutions to forge partnership together.

Nwoke said the court, being the judicial organ of ECOWAS, was charged with the responsibility of resolving disputes relating to the Community’s treaty, protocols and conventions.

He urged the regulatory body to make available its legal instrument to the court to enable it understand its operations.

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