By: Kebba AF Touray
The ECOWAS Parliament has approved community bills during its second ordinary session in Abuja to boost the Regional Electricity Market (REM). The unanimous approval of three draft community Acts aims to develop a legal and institutional framework for REM, which is expected to bring several benefits to ECOWAS member states, including increased access to electricity, lower electricity tariffs, and improved reliability of electricity supply.
The Chairperson of the ECOWAS Parliament’s Committee on Energy and Mines, Hon. Fougou Boukar, said the approval of the draft Community Acts is a major milestone in the development of REM and has the potential to transform the energy sector in ECOWAS and bring significant benefits to citizens.
In the same development, the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Parliament’s Committee on Industry and Private Sector, Hon. Mamadou Sako, explained that REM will help reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels, and promote the use of renewable energy sources, and said REM will contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy future for the sub-region.
The three community draft acts that were unanimously approved by the regional legislative body include the Draft Regulation on ECOWAS Regional Electricity Market Levy which establishes a mechanism for financing the activities of the ECOWAS Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA), the body responsible for regulating the REM, and the levy will be applied to all electricity transactions within REM; Draft Regulation on the Surveillance of ECOWAS Regional Electricity Market which establishes a framework to monitor REM to ensure fair and efficient operation, and outlines the roles and responsibilities of market participants in the surveillance process by setting out rules for investigating and penalizing market manipulation and insider trading, and the Draft Directive on the Harmonization of Criteria for the Granting of Licenses and Authorization to Participate in the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Market which establishes a harmonized criteria for granting licenses and authorization to participate in REM, and will help to create a level playing field for all participants and ensure that only qualified entities are able to participate in the market.
The Draft Community Acts will now be submitted to the ECOWAS Council of Ministers for approval, and if approved by the Council, the Acts will become law and will pave the way for the full implementation of REM.
Fragmented electricity markets, with limited cross-border trade in electricity, currently characterize the ECOWAS region. This, according to the authorities, has led to high electricity tariffs, unreliable supply, and limited access to electricity for many citizens. REM aims to address these challenges by creating a single integrated electricity market for the whole region and is expected to be implemented in phases, with the first phase focusing on the interconnection of national electricity grids. The second phase will focus on the harmonization of market rules and the establishment of a regional power trading platform.