The ECOWAS Commission on Monday launched its Regional Off-Grid Electricity Access Project (ROGEAP) in Accra, capital of Ghana to raise awareness about the $333.3 million funding available for private sector players in the renewable energy space.
The project is funded by World Bank, with co-financing from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and Directorate General of International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Government of the Netherlands.
It is intended to increase electricity access of households, businesses, and public institutions using modern stand-alone solar technology through a harmonised regional approach.
Ghana’s Minister for Energy Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh in a speech read for him the by the Deputy Director for Power In-Charge of Renewable Energy at the Ministry of Energy, Ing. Seth Mahu lamented that half of the 400 Million ECOWAS population do not have access to electricity which therefore, makes the off-grid electricity project very important.
According to him, it is highly significant that members within the West African States streamline policies upgrade their human resource capital, business models, financing and other critical ingredients in order to scale up off-grid electrification in the West African sub-region.
According to the Energy Minister, the International Energy Agency (IEA) identifies the off-grid sector as one of the critical strategies to accelerate electrification projects to achieve UN SDG7, adding that it is therefore imperative that ECOWAS creates the right policy and regulatory incentives, remove policy barriers, and provide market incentives to unlock development financing and private sector capital for rapid investment in the off-grid electrification agenda with a multi-tier perspective.
“Decisive, smart and timely solutions are needed if we must avoid missing the SDG7 target.
“We need home-grown solutions and partnership to develop the off-grid electrification market. I therefore applaud the World Bank, the Climate Technology Fund, the Netherlands Government for showing commitment and leadership in this regard”, he emphasized.
For ROGEAP to succeed, Dr. Opoku Prempeh also suggested that ECOWAS needs strong social and political commitment as members assuring that Ghana is ready to lead urging them to collectively to remove trade barriers including those within the ECOWAS Common External Tariff Agreement so that they can create the market and economy of scale to drive down prices of off-grid renewable energy electrification solutions.
As a leading example in the sub- region, the Energy Minister said Ghana has over 88.8% electricity access now and aims to cover the entire country by 2024.
Touching on efforts Ghana is making in the area of mini-grid, Dr. Opoku Prempeh said the country is targeting the construction of some 200 mini grids by the end of this decade.
Five min-grids are in operation, three under construction, and thirty-five under procurement funding from the World Bank, the Swiss Government, the African Development Bank, the Climate Investment Fund and the Government of Ghana.
The Coordinator of ROGEAP, Sylla El Hadji, described the project as a game-changer in the provision of electricity to hard-to-reach communities in Africa.
He urged the beneficiary countries to work together to ensure the effective implementation of the project to benefit their citizens.