ECOWAS governments urged to be more transparent in energy governance

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) based in West Africa have called on governments in the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) zone to be more democratic and transparent in energy governance in the sub-region.

They also stressed the need for genuine citizen participation and public-private partnership (PPP) at all levels in all countries since the sub-region had embarked on an ambitious process to develop renewable energy and energy efficiency policies.

Mr Sena Alouka, Executive Director of Youth Volunteer for the Environment International (YVE) based in Togo made this known to the Ghana News Agency in an interview at a high level ECOWAS Energy Minister forum held in Accra under the theme “Towards sustainable energy for all in West Africa: Paving the way through renewable energy and energy efficiency”.

He said in spite of an enormous potential in fossil and renewable fuels, Africa presents unacceptable energy deficits. “How is it that the access rate in electricity is around six per cent in DR Congo nevertheless renowned for its unequalled hydro-electric potential and home to the biggest dam of the continent?” he asked.

Sena Alouka expressed regret that the resources of the continent were under exploited, or excessively turned to the market; “Either still wasted during the extraction or during the transportation process”.

“As a result, the available supply for the populations is widely insufficient and the energy consumption articulates essentially around the biomass”, he emphasised.

Miss Ines Ahoue, Programme Co-ordinator of YVE in Cote d’Ivoire, said the access rate and availability of energy services in rural and semi-urban areas of the ECOWAS member states was alarmingly very how, adding that, ”This situation cannot help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015″.

She emphasised the need for an ambitious action plan built on existing diversity of new renewable energy potential with a dedicated attention to decentralised solutions, “if we are to reach the plus 80 per cent mostly in the rural setting”.

Mr Prince Olawuyi, Executive Director of YVE in Nigeria said, “Not only do big infrastructure not satisfy the need of the majority of the citizens but they also constitute a source of conflict, and poverty for our countries”,  adding that, “It is scandalous to see Nigerian citizens flooded under the waves of breaking waters resulting from a dam constructed in another country”.

Mr Lovans Owusu-Takyi, Executive Director of YVE, Ghana, expressed gratitude to the various institutions including ECOWAS  Commission (EC), Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (GFSE), United Nations Industrial and Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Ghana Energy Commission (GEO) and the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) which graced the occasion with insightful presentations, and expressed their support to the initiatives of the civil societies.

He said the rich presentations enabled all the participants to confirm that access to energy was very expedient for economic development and social justice, adding that “It should not be done without a real participatory and decentralised approach and focus on citizens’ livelihoods improvement.

Miss Sherrie Thompson, Executive Director of Global Resolve Africa, called for  for a regional environmental governance that would enhance the local and national natural energy resource management with and for the people. ”This is the inevitable prerequisite for sustainable development”.

ECOWAS Energy Ministers issued four communiqués which spelt out the various actions needed, such as ECOWAS policies on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and small hydro power programme and bio-energy strategy framework for adoption.

Mr Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, ECOWAS President expressed regret that despite their enormous energy resources the ECOWAS regions continued to face significant challenges in the energy sector.

Source: GNA

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