The Minister of Petroleum and Energy of The Gambia, Mr Fafa Sanyang, has called for greater synergy among the ECOWAS institutions responsible for energy in order to protect the interest of citizens in member states.
He is of the view that such synergy would be critical, especially during the first phase of the ECOWAS electricity market, which will be launched on June 29, this year, at Cotonou in Benin.
He has, therefore, urged the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA) and the West African Power Pool (WAPP) to closely supervise and monitor bilateral contracts signed by parties during the first phase of the regional electricity market.
A press statement issued by ERERA dated May 8, 2018, said Mr Sanyang made the call in Banjul while receiving an ECOWAS delegation to The Gambia who paid him a courtesy visit.
The delegation was led by the Chairman of ERERA, Professor Honoré Bogler, and included WAPP’s Director of Administration and Finance, Mr Baba Jarjusey.
The delegation also met with high-ranking officials of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) and the National Water and Electricity Company Limited (NAWEC), as well as representatives of the World Bank on mission in Banjul.
The aim of the ECOWAS electricity market is to enable the member states sell their energy at commercial prices to attract investors in the ECOWAS sub-region.
ERERA is the regulator of the West African regional cross-border trade of electricity and the regional regulator of cross-border electricity inter-connections.
The main objective of ERERA is to ensure the regulation of inter-state electricity exchanges and to give appropriate support to national regulatory bodies or entities of the member states.
During the meetings, the delegation gave an update on the progress so far recorded in the electricity sector in West Africa as well as the organization of the ECOWAS Electricity Market and its planned launch in June.
Following discussions, members of the delegation assured the minister and other stakeholders that adequate steps have been taken to ensure that the market is free, fair and independent market.
The delegation made it known that the Information and Coordination Centre of WAPP, which will become the System and Market Operator during the second phase of the market, will ensure transparency and guarantee market stability.
They also gave assurances that electricity would be available and affordable for citizens in the ECOWAS community when the market becomes fully operational.
In addition, the delegation assured the Gambian authorities that issues relating to open access, tariff-setting, standards, sanctions and dispute resolution are being well addressed by both ERERA and WAPP who share the same vision of a dynamic regional power market.
Members of the ECOWAS delegation who stressed the many advantages of the regional market, cautioned member states against signing long-term bilateral contracts.
According to them, this could limit their chances of benefitting from the various opportunities which would be offered by the soon-to-launched electricity market.