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Grid Expansion in Western Africa: Aims to meet future demand [free access]

August 8, 2017

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), comprising 14 members (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo), ranks among the lowest in the world in terms of electricity access rates, with only about 42 per cent of the total population, and 8 per cent of rural residents, having access to electricity. In fact, as per the United Nations estimates, Western African countries have one of the lowest per capita electricity consumption rates in the world.  In 2012, grid-based capacity in the region was estimated to be around 20,000 MW. The region is confronted with energy vulnerability, fuel price volatility and system unreliability. Electricity generation across West Africa remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels and estimates suggest that oil and gas account for a substantial portion of the total generation capacity, particularly in oil-rich countries like Nigeria.

                                                                                                                               

With rising power demand relative to supply and lack of evacuation infrastructure to enable power flows from production to demand centres, there have been instances of severe power shortages in the West African regions.  It is estimated that per capita demand will increase from 153 kWh in 2015 to 235 kWh by 2020. 

 

In line with this, the West African Power Pool (WAPP) has begun the process of updating its Master Plan for Generation and Transmission of Electrical Energy, which it aims to complete by 2018. The plan was developed in 1999 by ECOWAS and was later revised in 2005 and again in 2012. In addition, ECOWAS is developing a WAPP Information and Coordination Center (ICC), which aims to facilitate the accelerated launch of the regional electricity market and the management of financial transactions among market participants.

 

The updated master plan will focus on a development plan, which is based on least-cost planning; and the integration of renewable energy resources in the energy mix through initiatives such as the West Africa Clean Energy Corridor and initiatives of bilateral/multilateral partners addressing energy challenges in Africa. As of October 2016, the process to mobilise funding to prepare the master plan study was in progress.

 

Presently, the WAPP Interconnected System has nine ECOWAS member states (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal) electrically linked with reinforced interconnections.

 

Energy poverty and its consequences for local economies and social development are projected to remain the predominant challenge for West Africa through to 2030. Hence, there is an increasingly urgent need to both mitigate this energy crisis and promote sustainable electricity access. Given the region’s vulnerability to climate change, there is an urgent need for reliable and affordable energy access.

 

Renewable energy potential

The ECOWAS region is blessed with great renewable energy potential, which, if harnessed, can play an important role in addressing the energy shortage. In the coming years, the rising energy demand due to population growth (around 2.5 per cent per year), rapid urbanisation and economic development will call for urgent action to exploit the region’s tremendous renewable energy resources.

 

The 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 also the increased use of renewable energy. In line with this, many Western African countries are working to tap their renewable energy resources to their maximum potential and are also working to establish regulatory frameworks for the renewable energy sector.

 

 The institutional, regulatory, legal and tariff structures and frameworks for renewable energy are largely non-existent or weakly implemented in the Western African countries. Of the investment of EUR1.92 billion in the ECOWAS energy sector, only 5 per cent is accounted for by renewable energy, and independent power producers (IPPs) investment accounts for 3.5 per cent. Presently, there are no regulatory authorities dealing with renewable energy except in Cape Verde, Ghana and Nigeria.

 

Cape Verde is making a notable effort to priortise the renewable energy sector. It aims to achieve 100 per cent of its electricity generation through renewable energy sources by 2020. The country has taken several steps to develop grid-connected wind farms and solar photovoltaic (PV) plants to improve its grid access.

 

In addition, countries like Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria are also working towards developing detailed renewable energy policies. Countries like Ghana, the Gambia and Senegal have validated their draft renewable energy laws. Furthermore, Liberia, Mali and Senegal have adopted ambitious renewable energy targets of 30 per cent, 25 per cent and 15 per cent (installed capacity) respectively by 2021, and Ghana and Nigeria have set a target of 10 per cent by 2020.

 

Five West African countries, namely, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Togo and the Gambia, currently have no defined renewable energy targets. However, these countries are actively developing renewable energy projects. Burkina Faso is working on developing PV- and biofuel-based energy resources and Togo is utilising its wind-based resources.

 

The ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy has set a target of creating 60,000 mini-grids and 2.6 million stand-alone systems across the region by 2020, at a cost of EUR13.6 billion to serve 71.4 million people. The ECOWAS Rural Electrification Programme, which is implemented by ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), will support the achievement of this target, which aims to create mini-grids that will be powered mostly by PV, hydro, wind, biomass, biofuel and hybrid systems with diesel.

 

In addition, ECOWAS and ECREEE have mapped out the small-scale hydropower development potential in 14 West African countries. Countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are also working on such hydro-based projects to improve electricity access.

 

Regional integration

Regional integration of national power systems through a power pool mechanism continues to be seen as a primary means of resolving the power supply situation.

 

Regional power system integration, cooperation through grid interconnections and power pooling can address these power shortages and also ensure cost-effective and reliable power supply. There are several benefits of developing interconnections and operating power pools. These include reduced capital and operating costs through improved coordination among power utilities; optimisation of generation resources with large units; improved power system reliability with reserve sharing; enhanced security of supply through mutual assistance; improved investment climate through pooling risks; coordination of generation and transmission expansion; increase in inter-country electricity exchanges; and development of a regional market for electricity. More importantly, integrated regional power markets also boost economic development, alleviate poverty and achieve environmental sustainability.

To meet these challenges, governments must also look beyond their own borders and think on a continental scale. Western Africa is rich in energy resources, but as these resources are not evenly distributed, cross-border power trade is essential.

 

Presently, around 862 km of regional interconnection transmission lines have been commissioned. This includes four projects—the 330 kV West (Nigeria)–Sakete (Benin) interconnection project; the 330 kV Aboadze–Volta transmission line project in Ghana; the 225 kV Cote d’Ivoire–Mali interconnection project; and the 225 kV Bobo–Ouaga transmission line project in Burkina Faso. In addition, around 4,000 km of transmission line projects at the 225 kV and 330 kV voltage levels are at various stages of implementation. The majority of these interconnection projects are likely to be commissioned by 2020-21. 

 

Table 1: Key regional integration priority projects in West Africa

Projects

Route

Voltage (KV)

Length (km)

Scheduled commissioning

Ghana–Togo–Benin interconnection project

Volta (Ghana)–Lome "C" (Togo)–Sakete (Benin) line

330

 NA

2017

Cote d’Ivoire–Liberia–Sierra Leone–Guinea (CLSG) interconnection project  (first circuit)

Cote d’Ivoire–Liberia–Sierra Leone–Guinea

225

1,060

2019

Linsan (Guinea)–Manantali (Mali) interconnection

Linsan (Guinea) and Manantali (Mali)

225

 NA

2020

Ghana–Burkina Faso–Mali interconnection project

Bolgatanga (Ghana)–Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina) Bamako (Mali)

225

742

2020

North Core project

Niamey (Niger)–Birnin Kebbi (Nigeria)–Malanville (Benin)– Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)

330

832

2020

Coastal Backbone interconnection project

Aboadze (Ghana)–Riviera (Ivory Coast)

330

 NA

2020

Reinforcement of Benin–Nigeria interconnection

Sakete (Benin)–Omotosho (Nigeria)

330

120

2021

Buchanan (Liberia)–San Pedro (Ivory Coast) interconnection

Buchanan (Liberia) San Pedro (Ivory Coast)

225

400

2021

Note: Data is as of October 2016, NA: not available

Source: ECOWAS

 

Off-grid trends

Off-grid solutions are emerging as an important source of access to electricity in rural areas of the less developed Western African countries, especially in areas that are far from the power grid. As per the projections of the International Energy Agency (IEA), by 2040 almost 70 per cent of the electricity in rural areas will be provided through off-grid solutions.

 

 

To that end, West Africa is proving to be fertile ground for pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar systems. Countries like Ghana and Nigeria have greatly benefited from PAYG solutions. Ghana-based PAYG solar firm PEG Ghana Solar Limited recently raised USD3.4 million to expand its presence in the country and aims to install 500,000 systems in West Africa over the next five years. PEG aims to provide these solar systems for USD0.5 per day for a year to households earning USD1-10 per day. The systems can be paid for by mobile money. After a year, customers will own their systems outright.

 

This popular solution is also being adopted in Nigeria to hasten energy access where people have little or no access to grid connectivity. The country is shifting its focus to off-grid solar-powered kits, consisting of a single rooftop solar panel and a suitcase-sized battery. These are being used to electrify rural homes, power small appliances, mobile phones and fans, using the nation's abundant solar energy. Netherlands-based Lumos has sold 30,000 kits in rural Nigeria, and aims to sell as many as over 10 million PAYG sets in the next five years, at an estimated cost of USD2 billion. 

 

Conclusion

Efforts to integrate regional power markets have been ongoing across Western Africa for several years. Such coordinated efforts to develop available resources are particularly critical for less developed countries where the majority of the population has little access to power. Boosting power sharing among countries is therefore an essential step towards addressing the region’s needs.

 

However, challenges do exist, such as difficulty in aligning national and regional investment decisions, differences in regulatory environments among countries, insufficient regional institutions, lack of funding, changes in political frameworks, and national sovereignty and energy independence concerns.  It is important to overcome these in order to reap the full benefits of greater integration, especially given that the WAPP countries have abundant renewable resources that can be developed for their benefit.

 

 

 

 

The

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), comprising 14 members (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo), ranks among the lowest in the world in terms of electricity access rates, with only about 42 per cent of the total population, and 8 per cent of rural residents, having access to electricity. In fact, as per the United Nations estimates, Western African countries have one of the lowest per capita electricity consumption rates in the world.  In 2012, grid-based capacity in the region was estimated to be around 20,000 MW. The region is confronted with energy vulnerability, fuel price volatility and system unreliability. Electricity generation across West Africa remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels and estimates suggest that oil and gas account for a substantial portion of the total generation capacity, particularly in oil-rich countries like Nigeria.

                                                                                                                               

With rising power demand relative to supply and lack of evacuation infrastructure to enable power flows from production to demand centres, there have been instances of severe power shortages in the West African regions.  It is estimated that per capita demand will increase from 153 kWh in 2015 to 235 kWh by 2020. 

 

In line with this, the West African Power Pool (WAPP) has begun the process of updating its Master Plan for Generation and Transmission of Electrical Energy, which it aims to complete by 2018. The plan was developed in 1999 by ECOWAS and was later revised in 2005 and again in 2012. In addition, ECOWAS is developing a WAPP Information and Coordination Center (ICC), which aims to facilitate the accelerated launch of the regional electricity market and the management of financial transactions among market participants.

 

The updated master plan will focus on a development plan, which is based on least-cost planning; and the integration of renewable energy resources in the energy mix through initiatives such as the West Africa Clean Energy Corridor and initiatives of bilateral/multilateral partners addressing energy challenges in Africa. As of October 2016, the process to mobilise funding to prepare the master plan study was in progress.

 

Presently, the WAPP Interconnected System has nine ECOWAS member states (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal) electrically linked with reinforced interconnections.

 

Energy poverty and its consequences for local economies and social development are projected to remain the predominant challenge for West Africa through to 2030. Hence, there is an increasingly urgent need to both mitigate this energy crisis and promote sustainable electricity access. Given the region’s vulnerability to climate change, there is an urgent need for reliable and affordable energy access.

 

Renewable energy potential

The ECOWAS region is blessed with great renewable energy potential, which, if harnessed, can play an important role in addressing the energy shortage. In the coming years, the rising energy demand due to population growth (around 2.5 per cent per year), rapid urbanisation and economic development will call for urgent action to exploit the region’s tremendous renewable energy resources.

 

The 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 also the increased use of renewable energy. In line with this, many Western African countries are working to tap their renewable energy resources to their maximum potential and are also working to establish regulatory frameworks for the renewable energy sector.

 

 The institutional, regulatory, legal and tariff structures and frameworks for renewable energy are largely non-existent or weakly implemented in the Western African countries. Of the investment of EUR1.92 billion in the ECOWAS energy sector, only 5 per cent is accounted for by renewable energy, and independent power producers (IPPs) investment accounts for 3.5 per cent. Presently, there are no regulatory authorities dealing with renewable energy except in Cape Verde, Ghana and Nigeria.

 

Cape Verde is making a notable effort to priortise the renewable energy sector. It aims to achieve 100 per cent of its electricity generation through renewable energy sources by 2020. The country has taken several steps to develop grid-connected wind farms and solar photovoltaic (PV) plants to improve its grid access.

 

In addition, countries like Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria are also working towards developing detailed renewable energy policies. Countries like Ghana, the Gambia and Senegal have validated their draft renewable energy laws. Furthermore, Liberia, Mali and Senegal have adopted ambitious renewable energy targets of 30 per cent, 25 per cent and 15 per cent (installed capacity) respectively by 2021, and Ghana and Nigeria have set a target of 10 per cent by 2020.

 

Five West African countries, namely, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Togo and the Gambia, currently have no defined renewable energy targets. However, these countries are actively developing renewable energy projects. Burkina Faso is working on developing PV- and biofuel-based energy resources and Togo is utilising its wind-based resources.

 

The ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy has set a target of creating 60,000 mini-grids and 2.6 million stand-alone systems across the region by 2020, at a cost of EUR13.6 billion to serve 71.4 million people. The ECOWAS Rural Electrification Programme, which is implemented by ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), will support the achievement of this target, which aims to create mini-grids that will be powered mostly by PV, hydro, wind, biomass, biofuel and hybrid systems with diesel.

 

In addition, ECOWAS and ECREEE have mapped out the small-scale hydropower development potential in 14 West African countries. Countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are also working on such hydro-based projects to improve electricity access.

 

Regional integration

Regional integration of national power systems through a power pool mechanism continues to be seen as a primary means of resolving the power supply situation.

 

Regional power system integration, cooperation through grid interconnections and power pooling can address these power shortages and also ensure cost-effective and reliable power supply. There are several benefits of developing interconnections and operating power pools. These include reduced capital and operating costs through improved coordination among power utilities; optimisation of generation resources with large units; improved power system reliability with reserve sharing; enhanced security of supply through mutual assistance; improved investment climate through pooling risks; coordination of generation and transmission expansion; increase in inter-country electricity exchanges; and development of a regional market for electricity. More importantly, integrated regional power markets also boost economic development, alleviate poverty and achieve environmental sustainability.

To meet these challenges, governments must also look beyond their own borders and think on a continental scale. Western Africa is rich in energy resources, but as these resources are not evenly distributed, cross-border power trade is essential.

 

Presently, around 862 km of regional interconnection transmission lines have been commissioned. This includes four projects—the 330 kV West (Nigeria)–Sakete (Benin) interconnection project; the 330 kV Aboadze–Volta transmission line project in Ghana; the 225 kV Cote d’Ivoire–Mali interconnection project; and the 225 kV Bobo–Ouaga transmission line project in Burkina Faso. In addition, around 4,000 km of transmission line projects at the 225 kV and 330 kV voltage levels are at various stages of implementation. The majority of these interconnection projects are likely to be commissioned by 2020-21.

 

Table 1: Key regional integration priority projects in West Africa

Projects

Route

Voltage (KV)

Length (km)

Scheduled commissioning

Ghana–Togo–Benin interconnection project

Volta (Ghana)–Lome "C" (Togo)–Sakete (Benin) line

330

 NA

2017

Cote d’Ivoir