Regional Cooperation Key To Increase In Investment In West Asia: IRENA

The latest report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on ‘Scaling up Renewable Energy Investment in West Africa’ states that the Nigeria contributed to three-quarters of the energy supply in West Africa. It also houses nearly half of its people, allowing this country to dominate the region demographically and economically.

For supporting renewable energy investments in West Africa, the report recommends enhancing the regional dimension of renewable energy in the region at the policy, financial and technical levels. The report states that promoting regional integration in West Africa would help develop one-third of Africa’s total GDP and attract energy investments to support its economic development. 

Regional Developments

The report finds that building partnerships and regulatory structures through public-private sector cooperation can be key in mobilising funds for their benefit and would be beneficial to the region’s renewable energy sector. The report recommends following the continental initiatives such as the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa – Priority Action Plan (PIDA PAP) that can set an example for regional infrastructure development.

The report recommends coordination and development of power generation for the growth of the infrastructure network. This would be possible through the support of South-South cooperation, says the paper. It adds that it would allow the exchange of best practices and innovative solutions. This would support further exploration and support for building innovative projects (including productive uses of energy and integrated water-energy-food nexus solutions) and businesses to enhance access to energy and entrepreneurship, the paper states. 

Regional Cooperation

The paper recommends developing a harmonized permitting process among member states in Africa. It would involve developing regional grid codes compatible with cross-border trading, common rules for connection, grid access, operation and maintenance, cost definition and allocation. 

The report further elaborates that this would help to develop decentralized renewable energy solutions in national strategies that would help to maximize energy access. It could address the gap in Africa, which has, despite progress, left 188 million people in West Africa who lack access to electricity. Therefore, the report suggests bridging this gap with a two-pronged approach i.e., first developing a utility-scale generation, second creating a transmission grid for urban areas, and lastly implementing mini-grid and off-grid solutions to complement utility-scale plants to address energy access gaps in rural areas. 

The paper recommends developing blended financial risk management that supports independent power producers and banks. It would reduce the cost of capital-intensive renewables and unlock the full potential of cost-effective renewable energy sources through a standardized regional certification scheme for installing and maintaining renewable energy generation infrastructure recognised by professionals and end users in all ECOWAS Member States.