Top 3 Regional Cooperation Regimes Driving West Africa’s Energy Transition

With the pivotal MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power Conference 2022 approaching in Dakar this September, the coming years could re-define west Africa’s energy transition agenda. Currently driving the continent’s decarbonized power narratives are established regional cooperation regimes, with a demonstrated history of re-engineering the status-quo in favor of socioeconomic gains.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Established in 1975, ECOWAS comprises 15 member states including every MSGBC nation except Mauritania. Its Renewable Energy Policy adopted in July 2013 sets robust targets for the region, including a 35% renewables share in the energy mix by 2020, increasing to 48% by 2030. The regime’s Energy Efficiency Policy targets the freeing of 2 GW of power generation capacity through efficiency gains, doubling the rate of improvements in energy efficiency. In June 2021, the World Bank approved $465 million in funding for a Regional Electricity Access and Battery-Energy Storage Technologies Project, enabling ECOWAS member states to extend grid access to one million people and enhance power system stability for a further 3.5 million.

This project is run via the West African Power Pool (under ECOWAS), deploying renewables towards universal electrification targets by 2030. By this date, power demand across member states is expected to reach 250,000 GWh, emphasizing the central role ECOWAS plays in providing security for energy sector investors by way of ECOWAS Energy Protocol number A/P4/1/03, signed by member states in 2003. This, among other measures, affords energy sector investors the option to bring claims against governments for alleged wrongful measures, adversely impacting their investments. Since 2010, ECOWAS has also run the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) with a mandate to promote renewable energy in the region and foster energy efficiency markets.

The West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)

Established in Dakar in 1994, the WAEMU unites eight nations for regional economic integration. For the energy sector, however, its impetus is best felt in its backing of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Both Senegal and Guinea-Bissau are member states. Under SDG7, the WAEMU backs targets of 2030 universal electrification, renewable power adoption and the doubling of energy efficiency. As with ECOWAS, WAEMU also acts as an investment promoter and securities regulator. In partnership with the Institut de la Francophonie pour le Développement Durable, the WAEMU launched its Energy Atlas project last year, capable of quantitively assessing the state of renewables adoption across its member states, as a tool to inform policy and investment strategy.

The West African Clean Energy Corridor (WACEC)

With strategic intent to expand the development of scalable renewable power and integration into west African power systems, WACEC was launched by ECREEE in partnership with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in 2016. Leveraging IRENA’s technical expertise and experience with the eastern and southern African power pools, along with the 2014-formed Africa Clean Energy Corridor, WACEC operates across five key foundations – zoning and resource assessment, long-term energy planning support, capacity building, public information, and awareness raising. Specifically, WACEC targets the installation of 2 GW of solar power by 2030, funded by the EU Energy Initiative’s Technical Assistance Facility. Thus far, feasibility studies on renewables adoption has been conducted for Mali, Togo and Nigeria, with Senegal likely next in line. The Gambia has also benefitted from tailored support under WACEC’s sustainable energy marketplace and with the development of enabling policy, legislative and institutional frameworks, for an investment-backed energy transition.

Since 2013, Africa has already gained 24 GW in renewables capacity, but fossil fuels still constitute 79% of the continent’s energy mix when wind alone carries sufficient potential to meet demand. For west Africa and the MSGBC region, renewables present a cost-effective, scalable power source adapted both for industrial generation and remote deployment, and with prices at under 4 cents per kWh, renewables are highly conducive for universal access and equitable rapid economic development. To join the sub-continent’s present and future energy leaders, spanning heads of state and ministers, alongside policymakers and investors from across the globe, collaboratively re-defining a progressive narrative for the region’s energy transition, head to to register.

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Elliot Connor

Elliot Connor

Elliot Connor is Energy Capital & Power's Field Editor for The Republic of the Congo region. He holds a PgD in Environmental Engineering and is currently pursuing a Masters in Business Administration. He is also a bestselling author, TED speaker and charity CEO, having priorly worked as a columnist for India’s largest newspaper: The Daily Pioneer.