The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stakeholders have come together to launch a Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP) with a view to connect approximately 60% of the West African population who lack access to electricity supply.
The project, according to the ECOWAS Commissioner for energy and mines, Sédiko Douka, will benefit the Sahel region, which has been ear-marked along side other regions.
This, he said, will be achieved through the use of standalone solar systems, including solar lanterns, solar home systems, solar water pumps and solar mills. As such, there will be a meeting on the same that will bring together different stakeholders from 19 countries. The meeting will serve the purpose of working out modalities for the implementation of the project.
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Douka added that the project, which is sponsored by the World Bank, will kick-off in next year. He also noted that the project, with an estimated overall budget of US $200m will cover 19 countries. These are includes Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali and Niger. Others include Sierra Leone, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad and Mauritania.
Wendy Hughes, the Practice Manager, Energy and Extractive Global Practice of the World Bank Group, said that the off-grid technology acts as a sustainable alternative to grid electricity. She further added that the cooperation of member countries helps increase access to these modern energy devices.
Mahama Kappiah, the executive director of ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), said logistics to train local entrepreneurs in the energy sector are in the works. These, he said, will ensure ownership of the project and affordable energy for member states. Kappiah also spoke of provision of finance to the entrepreneurs. Currently, they have set aside US $140m as credit line that will go to the local entrepreneurs.