The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund on June 24 approved a technical assistance grant of $2 million to fund research that will contribute to electricity reforms in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The grant from the African Development Fund — the concessional window of the African Development Bank Group — will go to the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority. The ultimate objective is to stimulate cross-border electricity trade and improve energy access in the 15 countries in the region.
The project has five components. The first involves selecting electricity regulatory principles and key performance indicators from the African Development Bank’s flagship Electricity Regulatory Index for Africa report, to be adopted by the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority. As part of this component, the project will build capacity in member countries for collecting and reporting on these indicators on a common platform.
The second component will involve conducting a study in order to update a comparative analysis of electricity tariffs and their underlying drivers across the electricity value chain of ECOWAS.
The third involves developing a centralized database management system that will provide a platform for digitally collecting relevant energy information from member countries, storing, and disseminating them on a common digital platform.
The fourth component will assess and identify project bottlenecks and risks in ECOWAS member countries and recommend a coherent approach to progressively address ground-level barriers to investment in the power sector in pre- and post-establishment phases of the regional electricity market.
The final component focuses on program management and capacity building, which will be co-financed with the Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority. All components of the project will include gender-disaggregated data.
“Ultimately, this project will facilitate regional electricity trade and help improve access to electricity,” said Solomon Sarpong, project team leader at the African Development Bank. “It will address major causes of fragility, such as infrastructure bottlenecks, youth unemployment, environmental challenges, gender inequalities, and regional development imbalances.”
Established on May 28, 1975 via the Treaty of Lagos, ECOWAS is a regional organization that promotes economic integration in the constituting countries. ECOWAS consists of 15 countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. Covering about 6.1 million km2, ECOWAS has an estimated population of 360 million people.