Africa do not have access to electricity. The figure represents 58% of the 330 million people who lack electricity in the region.
The Executive Director, ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, ECREEE, Mr. Mahamah Kappiah gave the indication in a presentation during an oversight visit by members of the ECOWAS Parliament to the center in Praia, Cape Verde.
He said only 8% of the rural population in the region have access to electricity.
Kappiah however attributes the poor development to population growth. According to him”it has not improved because for the past 5 to 6 years, access is improving only in the urban communities but at the same time, population is also growing more in the rural than urban areas. So population growth has taken over all the successes that we have achieved. So we need to double our efforts to improve the situation “, he said.
Statistics released by the center shows that Sierra Leone has the least access rate to electricity in the ECOWAS region with less than 30% of its urban community and 2% of its rural population. Cape Verde on the other hand, has the highest rate of access to electricity with more than 90% access rate in its urban community and 65% in the rural areas.
It was with a view to addressing energy challenge in the region through the promotion of developments of sustainable energy that ECREEE was inaugurated on July 2010.
The Executive Director of the Centre said nine years down the line, the center has enlighten the government that renewable energy is sustainable and not expensive. ” When we started, they were issues. People had a wrong knowledge of it. They saw it as a project that was expensive and unsustainable. We had to start to change their mind set. Today, renewables are the least cost of energy, the price has dropped to 25% of what it used to be”.
He said the center has formulated a regional policy in collaboration with the 15 member states, to come up with an action plan for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. The center has also embarked on building the capacity of actors in the sector. He said at the moment, the center is carrying out project development and investment promotion in the sector with member countries. “We support member states with technical and legal advice in auction and bidding processes and PPA negotiations, so that if they want to go into energy investments, they will avoid wrong deals because this what use to happen in several sectors”.
As part of improving expertise in the sector, Kappiah said the centre has started a regional certification scheme to promote professional competency and address quality assurance gap that exist in member states.
The ECREEE model, he said has been duplicated in other regions of Africa as well as the Pacific and carribean regions.
The speaker of the Ecowas Parliament, Moustapha Cissé lo , said they were are the centre for an oversight visit and that with the presentation, the center was carrying out its mandate effectively.
A member of the Parliament, Senator Stephen Zargo said the oversight visit was important because of the alarming poor rate of access to electricity by the rural communities in the region.
The visit also affordable members of the ECOWAS Parliament an opportunity to raise questions for further clarification on the subject matter.