The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is implementing a $36.4 billion (about N13. 2 trillion) Energy Master Plan for the development of West African regional generation and transmission infrastructure between 2019 and 2033.
Experts say Nigeria must boost its electricity supply infrastructure if it is to tap from this regional project meant for the West African regional electricity market. This is because, it is argued, that Nigeria still has the cheapest bulk energy across the region and could earn much from selling to other countries in the region.
Buttressing this at the recent 34th technical and financial partners meeting of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) in Abuja, the Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman, said the Federal Government was developing more power projects to complement the ECOWAS energy plan.
Engr. Mamman who was represented by the Minister of State, Power, Mr. Goddy Jeddy-Agba, also launched the North Core project for a new transmission line from Kainji in Niger State, the Republics of Niger, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso.
The minister said the masterplan was adopted by ECOWAS ministers in charge of energy on December 4, 2018, and subsequently approved by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government on December 22, 2018.
Addressing the financial partners, the minister said the implementation of the plan would require their close attention and urged them to support the region.
Engr. Mamman listed some government projects in support of the regional energy trade starting in 2021 to include Zungeru and Mambilla hydropower plants, 330 kilovolts (KV) Nigeria to Niger, Benin/Togo to Burkina Interconnection Project.
The Minister of State, Power, Engr. Jeddy-Agba, who also launched the 330kV WAPP North Core Interconnection Project, said it was to build a 330kV transmission line from Kainji to connect Niger Republic, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso.
The priority project is being driven in Nigeria by TCN and other WAPP member countries to boost Nigeria's power export capacity and to provide cheaper energy in West Africa.
The minister further said, "In 2023, we expect this project to be commissioned, and I therefore exhort all involved to make this a reality."
The Chairman of WAPP, Mr Usman Gur Mohammed, said the regional agency was fully operationalising a regional electricity market within ECOWAS, and that it was a market that would yield socio-economic benefits and uplift the well-being of the ECOWAS citizenry.
Mr. Mohammed who is also the Managing Director (MD) of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), said, "It is a market that shall spur confidence and attract the private sector to take up investments without anxiety. It shall represent another positive step in the removal of borders among ECOWAS member states."
For the launch of the North Core project, Mohammed said the implementation office domiciled in Abuja began operation since May, 2019, and assured of completing it by 2023.
The ECOWAS Minister, Commissioner for Energy and Mines, Mr. Sedikou Douka, gave a breakdown of 20 of the masterplan's power projects which WAPP is executing.
Mr. Douka said 12 of them worth $7bn would generate 2,000MW of electricity by 2020 and that seven other projects funded with $1.5bn would generate 1,300MW, as he lauded international finance partners for the support.
Mr. Douka, however, urged power distribution utility firms to follow up on revenue collection from their customers.
He said, "If we can get generation and transmit power, the revenue should be recovered by the distribution firms. The distribution should not be weak link in the value chain."