By Obas Esiedesa
West African Power Pool (WAPP) Chairman, Engr. Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz has stated that strategic options are needed to tackle the liquidity challenges facing the sector in the ECOWAS region.
Abdulaziz, the acting Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), spoke at the opening 15th Session of WAPP General Assembly for the year, 2020 in Lome, Republic of Togo.
A statement by TCN General Manager Public Affairs, Ndidi Mbah in Abuja, said Abdulaziz noted that the power sector, as the engine of every economy, has been significantly impacted by the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, leading to, in most cases, a reduction in electricity demand, financial stress and other disruptions.
He, however, commended the high level of work accomplished by WAPP inspite of the pandemic.
The pandemic, he said, has introduced “several challenges for everyone and institutions globally and WAPP is not exempted, as increasing unemployment and poverty has prevented many from paying their electricity bills. Payment delays and sometimes delinquency of utility bills by end-consumers he continued, is having detrimental effect along the electricity supply chain”.
With the pandemic effect on the supply / demand side of the value chain and the already existing liquidity crises, strategic options he said, must be deployed to assist utilities bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s negative consequences.
He however expressed the confidence that one of the long-term benefits of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Market and Interconnected Grid that WAPP is working to establish, will enhance the resilience of the electricity supply chain against such ravaging events as the COVID-19 pandemic, and that WAPP would pursue this rigorously.
Engr Abdulaziz encouraged the sharing of strategies and collaboration among member utilities as well as the need to volunteer solutions that can further enhance WAPP resilience to the pandemic, noting that the realization of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Market will equally contribute immensely to easing some of these challenges.
Giving the activity report of WAPP for the period January to December, 2020, the Secretary General of WAPP, Mr. KI Apolonaire Seingui said that despite the negative impact of the pandemic, WAPP has continued to make gaint strides towards the implementation of a competitive regional electricity market.
He informed the board that the WAPP membership had increased to 36 member utilities with one observer.
The Sec. Gen. also spoke on the status of implementation of the various projects handled by the WAPP secretariat which are at various stages of execution; these include the 330kV WAPP North Core Interconnection Project linking Nigeria to Niger, Benin/Togo and Burkina Faso as well as the 330kV Median Core Interconnection Project that would connect Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire among others.
On the establishment of Regional Electricity Market, The Sec. Gen. said that the Regional Market is the ultimate goal set for the WAPP by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and that the WAPP Information and Coordination Center (WAPP ICC).