Affiliated Organization: Smart Villages
Type of publication: Report
Current Energy Situation Overview
Without considerable investment- energy poverty and its profound economic and societal consequences will continue to be a challenge for West Africa in 2030. The region with a total population in excess of 340 million has one of the lowest modern electricity consumption rates in the world. Electricity access rates in the region vary from below 20 % in countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger and Burkina Faso to more than 50 % in Senegal and more than 70 % in Ghana.
In Nigeria, the largest country in West Africa, it has been estimated that 96 million people 55 % of the population do not have access to electricity. For the ECOWAS region as a whole, only 19 % of the rural population has access, with this predominantly being in larger rural centres and some localities. Poor electricity access in the region is due to a variety of regulatory, social, economic, technical and financial constraints such as insufficient generation, high prices of petroleum, lack of financing, and transmission and distribution losses.
Traditional biomass, mainly for cooking, represents the bulk of final energy consumption ‘reaching up to 70-85 % in some of the countries’. In urban areas, charcoal remains the basic fuel despite efforts to promote LPG, whilst the rural population tends to use firewood in traditional stoves. With increasing population and urbanisation, the use of firewood is having a severe impact on forest and woodland environments, as well as impacting the health and quality of life of rural/urban people, in particular, women and girls.
Key Challenges for Energy Access in Western Africa
- Financing: Private sector investment in electricity in rural areas is limited due to low consumption, influenced by an inability of consumers to pay and the high costs of diesel generation.
- Affordability: Urban and rural poor spend proportionately more of their income ‘for poor quality energy services than the better-off for better quality services’. Poor households cannot afford high electricity connection charges and rely on kerosene for lighting and on wood fuel, charcoal, and bottled gas for cooking. Even if the grid reaches a rural area, the families may be hard pressed to afford it- making exploring renewable off-grid solutions, all the more important.
- Energy Security: Diversification of energy sources is needed: for some countries more than 90 % of electricity generation is from expensive diesel or heavy fuel. This dependence results in high power generation costs, with much of the fuel having to be imported in the case of the smaller oil importing countries in the region.
- Reliance on traditional biomass (firewood and charcoal): Represent the bulk of energy consumption.
- Whilst most governments have now set up Rural Electrification Agencies and/or Rural Electrification Funds, the impact of such organisations may be hampered by a lack of financial/technical expertise.
- Drought and conflict: Drought has seriously reduced the power available to hydro-dependent countries in West Africa – countries with major hydropower installations in affected catchments such as Ghana, have had to switch to expensive diesel power. Furthermore, war has seriously damaged power infrastructure in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Overall, countries in conflict perform worse in the development of infrastructure than countries at peace.
The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) was established in July 2010, demonstrating the resolve of ECOWAS member states to improve energy access, energy security, counter climate change and reduce emissions. ECREEE has attained international recognition as a regional renewable energy and energy efficiency (RE&EE) promotion agency (ECREEE, 2014). The activities of the agency cover a range of areas, including : policy development, capacity building, resource assessment, knowledge management, and investment promotion. There have been several notable achievements by the agency since its formation including:
- In the first call for proposals for the ECOWAS Renewable Energy Facility, 41 projects were approved with an overall volume of €2 million.
- The web-based ECOWAS Observatory for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECOWREX) has also been established, providing targeted investment/business information for the private and public sectors.
- The ECOWAS Renewable Energy Investment Initiative (EREI) was also formed to support the development of a renewable energy project pipeline for medium and large-scale projects.
ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy: ECOWAS member states have recognised that to achieve goals for energy access and energy security there will need to be an increased use of renewable energy, as well as increasing energy efficiency. This led to the adoption of regional policies for renewable energy and energy efficiency in October 2012 by the ECOWAS energy ministers. The ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy (EREP) along with the ECOWAS energy efficiency policy aims to respond to the energy crisis and challenges in the region.
They seek to increase use of renewable energy sources, and to help enable, amongst other things, universal access to electricity by 2030. The EREP aims to be complementary to the West African Power Pool (WAPP) power supply strategy both in terms of contributing to bulk power generation and with regard to achieving universal energy access for rural areas. The EREP is based on five guiding principles:
1. Subsidiarity: ‘The EREP will intervene in regional actions only when they can bring added value to national actions’.
2. Participatory Approach: Involvement of end users in the definition of technical and organizational options creation of a forum of ‘national stakeholders for the private sector and the civil society together with the national officials from the relevant ministries, utilities and regulatory authorities’.
3. Optimization of the use of available financial resources: mobilization will require a mix of public development aid, and national public and private financing, as well as prioritizing high impact/low cost solutions.
4. Promoting public-private partnerships: Partnerships to cover technical aspects, management systems, fund-raising and financial risk-taking. 5. Support to Gender Equality: Efforts to be made to mainstream gender issues.
Off-grid solutions represent an important source of access to electricity in rural areas, especially in those areas that are located at a considerable distance from the power grid. Projections by the IEA suggest that by 2040, 70 % of the electricity in rural areas will be provided through these sources. For example, the new projects in wind and solar established by independent power producers in Cape Verde could be indicators of change in the off-grid energy situation in the region. West Africa is proving to be ‘fertile ground’ for pay-as-you-go solar. For example, the Ghana-based pay-as-you-go solar firm PEG recently raised $3.4 million for the expansions of its presence in the country.
With a total population in excess of 340 million has one of the lowest modern electricity consumption rates in the world
The firm focuses on rural, remote communities and aims to install 500,000 systems in West Africa over the next five years. PEG targets those households earning $1-10 per day offering systems for $0.5 per day for a year, which can be paid for my mobile money, after the year point customers own their systems outright. Functions of the solar technology include lighting, mobile phone charging and a radio. Where there are adequate resources available, small hydro and wind projects can also compete with solar PV in off-grid/mini grid applications.
Renewable Energy in the region
The ECOWAS region is endowed with substantial renewable energy resources, with renewable energy technologies approaching grid parity in certain circumstances. ECOWAS member states recognise that achieving the goals for energy access and energy security will mean not only increased efficiency in the use of energy but the increased use of renewable energy.
Renewable energy potential
- Wind potential is concentrated in coastal zones of Cape Verde, Senegal, The Gambia, and possibly Ghana, Mali and Nigeria.
- Potential for micro-hydro schemes is found particularly in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Togo and Sierra Leone.
- Solar resource is abundant in northern regions such as Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and the north of Ghana and Nigeria.
- Except for Cape Verde and the Sahelean areas of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, there are substantial biomass resources.
Cape Verde has been a pioneer in prioritising renewable energy. It aims for 100 % electricity generation by renewable energy sources by 2020 and has taken a number of steps towards implementation e.g. grid-connected wind farms and solar PV plants.
ECOWAS member states recognise that achieving the goals for energy access and energy security will mean not only increased efficiency in the use of energy but the increased use of renewable energy
Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria have developed detailed renewable energy policies, with Ghana and Senegal passing a renewable energy law. The Gambia also validated its draft renewable energy law in December 2012.Furthermore, Liberia, Mali and Senegal have adopted ambitious renewable energy targets of 30 %, 25 % and 15 % (installed capacity) respectively by 2021, and Ghana and Nigeria 10 % by 2020.
There are five countries that currently have no defined renewable energy targets: Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Togo and The Gambia. However, these countries are actively developing renewable energy projects. For example, in Burkina Faso (PV and biofuels), Togo (wind) and Sierra Leone (Small-scale hydro) and The Gambia (wind and biofuels).
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