The World Bank group has approved a USD300 million grant to help Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone achieve the potential of the regional power market by supporting reforms that will help promote electricity trade within West Africa. 

The West Africa Regional Energy Trade Development Policy Financing Program plans to remove barriers to electricity trade, which will lower electricity costs for consumers, support the competitiveness of firms and improve resilience and reliability of power supply. Currently, only 50 per cent of the population in West Africa has access to electricity. Those who do have access to electricity pay among the highest prices in the World (more than double those of consumers in East Africa). In addition, due to operational deficiencies, electricity services are unreliable, with an average of 44 hours of outages per month.

The program supports a policy reform which is being implemented by Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone, to facilitate trade in cleaner low cost electricity generated from gas, hydropower and other renewable energy technologies across borders. This will replace the more expensive electricity generated from inefficient small-scale oil-fired and diesel generation and improve the reliability of electricity services. The economic benefits of the regional power market are evaluated at USD 665 million per year.

“West Africa has huge potential for clean and green energy generation, which countries can unlock and pool together to bring lower cost electricity to communities and help create jobs,” says Ousmane Diagana, the World Bank Vice-President for Western and Central Africa. “The West Africa Power Pool has done the fundamental work of interconnecting national grids, and it is now time to realize the full strength of the regional power market. Coordinated policies paired with effective institutions and regulatory frameworks will help improve trust in the electricity trade and usher in a new era of affordable and reliable energy in West Africa,” adds Diagana.